“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” –Matthew 22:37-40
Several years ago, I belonged to a missional community downtown. One night during our weekly gathering, we were talking about the need to be intentional with our time, to make space for spending time with other people. My friend Amanda expressed something about myself that, to me, was a startling revelation.
“I know most of us go to work, and then we come home and eat dinner with our family, for those that are married or have kids, and maybe watch Netflix or do household related duties, and then we go to bed. And we repeat this most weeknights.” She paused and looked at me. “Maggie, you’re a big exception to that.”
She was right, of course. I’ve always been a huge extravert – historically, my happy space has been anywhere but my house, spending time with friends and doing fun activities. At the time, I was rarely ever at home, and I almost never sat down to watch TV.
What was a startling revelation to me was that this wasn’t normal. I couldn’t wrap my head around an existence where someone spent most of the week inside their house, away from other people.
Fast forward to the present, and for some reason, there’s a been a huge shift in my daily pattern of living. I now know exactly what that lifestyle is like (minus the spouse and kids, of course). And I have to say – it’s nice to come home after work and watch The Umbrella Academy or This Is Us while eating whatever Door Dash brought to my humble abode.
I’ve become less and less social and more and more lethargically content with being a homebody. In fact, now when people want to get me out of my apartment, I resent it. No matter how excited I am about the activity or the person, I leave my place begrudgingly. It’s just so much easier to stay home in my comfy clothes, lounging in a recliner, especially during the week after I’ve spent 8 long hours reading commercial real estate leases. And then leaving my place means I might not get to bed at exactly the time I want to, and I certainly won’t get to catch up on my TV shows.
Family, I’m here to confess that preserving my time, presence, energy, emotional investment, and overall comfort has become a huge idol preventing me from carrying out the first and second greatest commandments given to us by our Father – to love Him, and to love our neighbor. Sometimes I am more invested in the lives of people who don’t even exist, than in my God and the people for which He sacrificed everything.
And I have to wonder, given the conversation I had with my friend Amanda, if this might be true for many of you, as well.
Are we being intentional with our time?
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. – Ephesians 5:15-17.
As clearly displayed in Matthew 22, we know the biggest heartbeat of the Lord’s will -- to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength.
First and foremost, do we make space for the Lord? Are we setting time aside consistently to meet with Him, to talk with Him, to read His Word, to sit in His presence, to listen to His thoughts and what He has to say?
For some of us, we may need to stop and focus right here. After all, our Lord and Savior says in His Word that this is the greatest commandment. There is nothing more important than getting to know and love our God even more. His love for us should fuel everything else we do in our life, and we are powerless to do a single thing apart from Him.
For those who have at least somewhat of a faithful rhythm of meeting with our Lord, the next question becomes, do we make space for other people? Do we consistently practice fellowship with our Brothers and Sisters, the beloved bride of Christ? Are we intentional about inviting others into our family, people who have yet to know and experience Christ’s love? Or are we so busy with our work schedules, our family life, and our entertainment that we’ve left little room for the Lord’s work? Do we check the box of attending Gospel Community and Sunday morning service and maybe even a monthly community service venture, and call that good, when the vast majority of our time is being spent inside the four walls of our home?
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25
Brothers and Sisters, in this, the Lord’s will is very clear: Our lives are not our own. The second we put our faith and trust in Christ, He brought our dead, rotting selves to life – new life in Him. He purchased our lives, sparing nothing, because He valued nothing more than us.
If we value God, we value what He values – the people created in His very image.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:7-8
So. Let’s get very practical here.
What steps can you take today to get to know the triune God better, to spend time connecting with Him? It’s a lifelong process, for sure, but this should always be our starting point. He is the fountainhead from which all else flows.
What idols are taking up your time and energy, leaving no room for the Lord’s will? Even good things, like spending time with family, working hard in a career, or taking care of errands and household duties, can be used by Satan to turn us away from God.
Who has God placed in your life, both believers and un-believers, and how can you be intentional about reaching out to them? It doesn’t have to be grandiose. Go grocery shopping with someone after church, or invite someone over for whatever you’d normally have for dinner in whatever state your house would normally be in. Set reminders on your phone to check in with someone you know is struggling, even just a quick text or two. When you’re going out to the movies with your family, invite a coworker or a single person from church. Be available for a phone call when someone’s going through a tough time, or set a play date for your kids (or your pets). Take a plate of cookies over to your neighbor’s house and get to know them just a little bit more. The list goes on and on.
If you, like me, find that this is an area of your life that might be difficult to change, please reach out. Fill out a connect card at church asking for prayer, talk in your GC’s about it, grab an elder or someone you trust and talk about it over coffee, email a church leader or myself – just don’t think you need to confront this alone.
We are a community and a family, and we are here for you. As Scripture says:
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Much love, Brothers and Sisters!