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Monday, November 30, 2015

Know when to quit...

Do you have enough sense to know when to quit?  In my industry, we call this "work - life balance" - knowing when work needs to come to an end and the things in life which matter outside of work become our focus with enough energy and enthusiasm still left to actually enjoy them.  Quite a few people in your circle of influence may struggle with this "knowing when to quit" kind of thing - whether it is in the realm of a job they go off to each day, or something which distracts them equally as much in their leisure life.  Either way, if there isn't balance, we find ourselves engaged in what becomes the focal point of our lives and this can demand a very disproportionate amount of our time, energy, and heart.

Do not overwork yourself just to become wealthy; have enough sense to know when to quit. As soon as you become fixed on riches, they vanish. For suddenly they sprout wings and become like a soaring eagle flying high in the sky. (Proverbs 23:4-5 VOICE)

Notice that our passage doesn't say have enough sense TO quit - it says have enough sense to KNOW WHEN to quit.  There is a difference.  We can have enough sense TO quit - but we may be falling down from fatigue by the time we reach this point!  Knowing when to quit is a matter of heart, mind, and spirit being aligned - knowing deep down when the place we are at is the point at which we need to take a break from what we are pursuing in order to pursue things of higher value (such as time with God, those we love, and those we care about deeply).  

The focal point of our lives has a tendency to become that which gives us the most satisfaction - or at least promises to do so.  When we have the job as the focal point of our lives, we find ourselves too worn out at the end of the day to enjoy our family or even a little leisure time.  That cannot be good, right?  When we have the leisure stuff as our focal point, we might not have enough to pay the bills, going into debt beyond our ability to repay.  That also cannot be good, right?  Either way, we need to learn this art of "balancing" the two - or we will love one way too much and neglect the other.

We don't work to make ourselves wealthy.  We work to provide for the needs of our family (or our own needs, if we are single).  When God instructed man to work the fields and tend the animals, he didn't have in mind that we were to amass fortunes by doing so - neglecting all other pursuits.  In fact, when you look at what God instructs, he tells us to be sure we don't become so consumed by the pursuit of one thing we neglect everything else in life.  

As the Israelites were about to come into the Promised Land, God actually warned them to not become so consumed by the homes they would inherit without building them with their own hands, the fields they would be gathering from which they had not planted, and even to be very careful about the pursuit of the religious ways of those who dwelt in the land.  Why did he have to tell them all this?  He knew very well that increasing one's wealth brought a certain temptation to focus on that "wealth" rather than on the one who had really made the provision in their lives.  They would become "unbalanced" very quickly and drift away from keeping him central in their lives.

God doesn't oppose us gaining wealth - he opposes it becoming the primary pursuit and the thing upon which we place our trust.  He doesn't oppose us enjoying leisure time - he opposes us putting so much into the pursuit of leisure that we neglect him.  In all cases, he looks to our heart - seeking balance there - with a right focus on him, balance is maintained. Fix your attention on anything else and it will flee from you, causing you to muster even more energy and time to pursue it.  Just sayin!