Losing the Forest for the Trees

Have you ever been so caught up in the details of a thing that you miss the big picture?  Have you been so focused on checking things off a list that you miss why you have the list to begin with?  Do you feel overwhelmed with the “to do” and forget what “is finished?”  If so, you’re probably losing the forest for the trees.

Confession:  I have recently been losing the forest for the trees.  I have been focusing on the details of working for the Church and I’ve lost sight of my first Love (more on this later).  It is easy to get distracted with life and lose sight of Christ.  Distraction is a tool of the enemy.  He is a liar.  And y’all, I have been believing the enemy’s lies.

Lie #1:  If I’m busy, I’m important.

There was an article by Guy Kawasaki by The Huffington Post called Let’s Stop the Glorification of Busyness, and while the article has a secular focus, the essence of the article is simple: we glorify being busy.  This reflects our selfishness and pride.  If I have a lot to do, I’m needed.  I’m important.  I’m worth something.  Without me, nothing will get done.  It turns the focus from Christ toward us.  Score one for the Enemy!

Replace this lie with truth:  First, the Lord is everything, not us (John 3:31).  Second, God gave us our identity before he gave us our work (Genesis 1:26) – or worth is found in Him, not what we do.

Because we’re constantly bombarded with this lie, I want to give you some ammo.  Romans 12:2 is my go-to verse when I find myself living and believing lies.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (NLT, emphasis added)  Let God transform your mind.  Preach His Word to your heart.

Lie #2:  As long as I’m doing good, I’m doing well.

“But, Kathryn,” you say, “I’m doing the ministry of God!  I’m fighting for the oppressed!  I’m bringing the Word to those overseas!  I work for a church!  I spend my time sharing the Gospel with everyone I meet!  I [insert good work here]!”

Ok.  You’re busy doing good.  That’s fantastic!  Really!  But are you doing the best good?

Here’s what I mean.  Go read Luke 17:11-19.  It’s short.  I’ll wait.  Got it?  How quick were you to judge the nine “ungrateful” lepers who did not return to Jesus?  Do you think they weren’t grateful?  It’s hard to believe they weren’t.  They weren’t pariahs anymore!  They could return to their families!  They could live in society again!  They had their lives back (literally and figuratively)!  I’m certain these men were grateful.  Aren’t we like these men?  We forget to praise God.  In verse 19, Jesus makes it clear that it is our faith – the outward praise of the Lord – that makes us well.  

But in Leviticus 14, just notice how involved the process of being considered cleansed of leprosy exactly is.  The nine “ungrateful” former lepers were probably following the religious law.  It takes time.  They were doing what they were supposed to do.  They were doing good.  Right?  But the one former leper who returned to worship Jesus is the one who is commended.  The other nine were doing good, but not the best good.

And lest you think this is a fluke, I’ll point you to the well-known story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10.   Martha is literally serving Jesus.  Literally.  Serving.  Jesus.  And yet, Jesus praises Mary for taking the time to sit at His feet and simply be with Him: but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her. (42, ESV)

As believers, it’s easy to crave the praise: Well done, good and faithful servant! (Matthew 25:23). And there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to please the Lord with our actions.  But doing good does not mean we are doing well.  Just look at the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7.  The became busy doing the work of the Lord and lost sight of their first Love.  And the Lord rebukes them for this!  Sound familiar?

Jesus wants us – not what we do!  He never condemns the others for doing good.  He praises and blesses those who are doing the better good – that is, knowing and being with and resting in Him.

Replace this lie with truth:  Jesus is the best good.  Matthew 6:33 tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…” (ESV)  If you didn’t get a chance to read Melanie’s post from last week, I would encourage you to do so.

Let’s take time to remember our first Love.  Pray through Psalm 27 with me this morning.  

My heart has heard you say “Come and talk with me.”

And my heart responds “LORD, I am coming.” (NLT)

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