Being a Productive Christian

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Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

There are many books, articles, and websites dedicated to the subject of productivity. People want to improve how they use their time and work more efficiently and effectively. While being productive is important in the realm of work and business, we should not limit it to those areas of our lives.

The Scriptures teach that we are to be productive in our spiritual lives. Though the word productivity is not used in the Bible, the concept is certainly discussed. In this article, we are going to see what the Bible says about how to be a productive Christian.

Productivity Is Not Busyness

This is an important point that productivity experts emphasize – being busy does not always mean we are being productive. We can keep ourselves “busy” with unimportant or irrelevant tasks and fill an eight hour workday, yet only do four hours of real work. Productivity is about accomplishing our important tasks effectively and efficiently.

This is important to remember when it comes to being a productive Christian. Being busy does not always mean we are being productive in our efforts to serve God.

  • We can be busy in practicing sin – Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord said that sin had become such a large part in His people’s lives that “they weary themselves committing iniquity” (Jeremiah 9:5). Many today – sadly, even some Christians – fill their lives with sinful practices.
  • We can be busy in household affairs – When Jesus came to the home of Martha, she was so wrapped up in serving her guests that she did not have time to sit down and listen to Jesus’ words like her sister Mary did (Luke 10:38-42). It is certainly good to serve and care for guests, but it is also possible to busy ourselves in what is good and neglect what is better.
  • We can be busy in our secular work – In the parable of the marriage feast, Jesus described the king’s invitation being sent out; yet some “paid no attention and went on their way, one to his own farm, another to his business” (Matthew 22:1-5). These work-related activities are necessary; but as Jesus explained, some focus on these things to the neglect of what is most important.

Other examples could be cited, but the point is that being busy is not always good, especially when we are “too busy” to focus on spiritual things and serving the Lord.

How to Be a Productive Christian

How can we be most effective in our spiritual lives so that we will best accomplish what the Lord wants us to do?

First, we need to recognize what is most important – “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ…in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7-11). Paul recognized that the most important thing was to follow Christ in order to obtain the eternal reward of the resurrection. There is nothing more important than the eternal salvation of our souls. This is why Jesus asked, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Because nothing in this world is as important as the life to come, we are to make it “our ambition…to be pleasing to Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9).

Second, we need to focus on what is important – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Knowing what is most important does us no good if we do not focus on it. Jesus explained that seeking the kingdom and the righteousness of God must be our highest priority. Paul wrote, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). We are to “[fix] our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) and not allow the “worries and riches and pleasures of this life” to distract us from fruitful service to the Lord (Luke 8:14).

Third, we need to spend time on what is important – “Making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). In order to decide how to spend our time, we can ask the question: What is going to help us get to heaven? Answering that question correctly will give us a list of things to spend our time doing:

  • Reading and studying the Scriptures – The Bible shows us how to be “approved to God” (2 Timothy 2:15), equips us “for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and is “able to build [us] up and to give [us] the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). Therefore, we must spend time in the word of God.
  • Praying to God – Through prayer we can obtain “the peace of God” which is able to “guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). We can “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Because of this, we cannot allow ourselves to neglect the practice of prayer.
  • Assembling with the church – By assembling, we can “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” and encourage “one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25). We do not get this encouragement when we allow ourselves to develop the habit of forsaking these assemblies.
  • Spending time with other Christians – In addition to the time we spend in the regular assemblies of the church, we can “encourage one another day after day…so that none of [us] will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
  • Fulfilling our God-given earthly responsibilities – While it is important to focus on spiritual things, we also need to remember our earthly responsibilities. Paul told Timothy, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). The fact that some focus on their work and business to the neglect of spiritual things does not mean that we should neglect work and business altogether. Failing to fulfill these responsibilities – through willful refusal (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:10) – amounts to a denial of the faith.

This is not to say that we cannot spend time with hobbies, recreation, or entertainment. It means we must plan our time based upon what is most important because these things will not happen by accident. We need to be intentional in making sure our activities reflect the right priorities.

Fourth, we need to manage our energy so that we can keep doing what is important – “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9). It is a natural part of our created existence that when we expend energy, we get tired. When Jesus was traveling through Samaria, He was “wearied from the journey” and sat down “by the well” (John 4:6). The Law of Moses had a day of rest – the Sabbath – legislated to the people (Exodus 20:8-10). Since the old law has been nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14) and the requirement to keep the Sabbath day was not included in the new law, we do not necessary have to observe a weekly day of rest; but we do need some time. Jesus explained this to His disciples: “And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.’ (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat)” (Mark 6:31). We certainly need to be “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14); however, we also need to recognize that the Christian life is a marathon (Hebrews 12:1-3). We need to keep ourselves from losing heart and growing weary by allowing ourselves to have time alone to read, pray, meditate, and rest.

Conclusion

Being a productive Christian is not about doing a lot of just anything, it is about properly doing the right things. We need to recognize what is important – spiritual things, serving the Lord, a home in heaven – and devote the attention, time, and energy necessary to please the Lord.