Take one church bulletin, add random birthday parties, plus work and school obligations, and throw in a social life, and random dental, medical, mechanical and errand-running responsibilities, and the average person has a life that can leave his or her head spinning! Many of us are riding a merry-go-round but try as we might, we can’t get off!
Having recently gone through the painful process of culling our family commitments, it didn’t take long (a week, tops!) to realize that all of that chopping out and saying “no” produced an amazing result. For the first time in years, I noticed specific signs of neglect in the many corners of our lives! And for the first time in years, I actually had a few hours to choose how I would spend my time. It was wonderful!
Actually, I’ve had several delightful opportunities to start attacking things I never truly believed I’d get to. The interminable pile of paperwork on my desk contained obsolete forms and no-longer-meaningful correspondence that I enthusiastically removed from our lives, permanently. As the paper shredder has whirred and the recycling bin been repeatedly emptied, our home has felt lighter.
Actually, I’ve had several delightful opportunities to start attacking things I never truly believed I’d get to.
What do we toss? This wonderful new way of living starts by evaluating the most sacred and working your way down. Don’t I have that backwards? No, because what you may have considered “sacred” for decades may not, in fact, be so! Your resources of time, energy and spiritual gifts are sacred, however, always.
Jesus is concerned about what we do with these sacred gifts from Him. In Matthew 7:6, He says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” The word sacred used here is the Greek word hagios (hag’-ee-os), which means set apart by (or for) God, holy, sacred.
This wonderful new way of living starts by evaluating the most sacred and working your way down.
What are your pearls? Have you been traipsing to a certain weekly evening commitment for years just because it’s fun for you or your kids? Is it productive for their lives or God’s Kingdom? What is it taking from you and your family? Is it worth it? Could there be something better? Better may mean doing fewer "good" things. Or doing fewer things, but well.
Jesus warns that when we cast our pearls, they don’t just get buried in the mud. What happens is much worse than that. Our imprudent stewardship can cause the “pigs” to whom we have become subject to turn and tear you to pieces! Carelessly giving of ourselves can actually be harmful, or even destructive!
We need to seek God for wisdom as we do a schedule/resource re-evaluation! Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” This is sobering. We can easily and unknowingly drift far from living with wisdom! We can find ourselves sitting passively in our boats, allowing the wind to blow us where it may. The truly sad thing is that we may drift past amazing opportunities to do things that are important to God’s Kingdom. This is tragic.
This is a great exchange; we get to keep our pearls and find peace when we give up the things that God shows us don’t actually matter.
When we ask God where we may be throwing our pearls, we can stop doing so. Instead, His wisdom comes full of mercy and good fruit. When God gives us His wisdom, we are protected from choices that may be actually tearing us to pieces. When we live unwisely, that’s how we actually may describe ourselves; ragged.
Be forewarned that the metaphorical dogs and pigs that Jesus speaks of are sometimes unhappy when we stop tossing our best their way. When God directs you, follow through on rearranging your life! Most people will eventually understand that your “no’s” are to be respected. You may find that taking time and breathing deeply is a pleasant feeling.
Be forewarned that the metaphorical dogs and pigs that Jesus speaks of are sometimes unhappy when we stop tossing our best their way.
My middle child is looking at colleges. I shudder to think that I traded years of “one more chapter” for a now seemingly unimportant calendar-filling (and gas-guzzling and sleep-delaying) weekly activity. Many of us, for seasons, have tossed what is sacred to pigs. Instead of looking back with regret over so many lost pearls, we can look ahead and choose to pray fervently for wisdom regarding our futures. It may be time to say "no" and turn a forfeited activity to fruit for His Kingdom. May we all move forward with a new intentionality with every choice we make!