What Does the Bible Say About Staying Busy?

Being busy is a common struggle for many Christians today. The demands of work, family, ministry, and other obligations can often leave us feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted. We run from one thing to the next, trying to get it all done. Yet in the midst of all this busyness, we can lose sight of what’s most important according to God’s Word.

So what does the Bible say about staying busy? There are a few key principles we can draw from Scripture:

Key Takeaways:

  • Busyness in itself is not inherently good or bad – it’s our motivation and priority that matters. We should stay busy with the right things.
  • God cares more about our character than our achievements. We need to be still and know Him rather than constantly striving.
  • Busyness can often lead to spiritual drift and disconnect from God. We need to be careful to not let it crowd out time with Him.
  • God calls us to seasons of both work and rest. Balance is important.
  • Loving and serving others should be our priority over personal success and gain. Our busyness should align with God’s purposes.
  • We need to find our sufficiency in Christ, not in staying busy and active. Our worth and identity are in Him.
What Does the Bible Say About Staying Busy?

Busyness is Not Inherently Good or Bad

The Bible itself does not directly condemn being busy. Hard work, diligence, and industriousness are commended throughout Scripture (Proverbs 6:6-8; Ecclesiastes 9:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). When Jesus calls us to follow Him, He invites us into a life of purpose and labor for the Kingdom of God. We are called to fulfill important works prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10).

So busyness in itself is not the problem. The issue is more about why we are busy, and where our focus lies. Loving God and people should be our motivation, more than personal gain or validation (Matthew 22:37-39). We need to abide in Christ even as we work (John 15):

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

Martha was busy serving, which is commendable. But her busyness distracted her from fully being present with Jesus. We need to take time to sit at Jesus’ feet even when life feels hectic.

God Cares More About Our Character Than Our Achievements

One of the dangers of excessive busyness is that our sense of value and worth can become tied to what we accomplish rather than who we are in Christ. We measure ourselves by achievement and activity rather than by abiding in God’s love.

But God is clear that who we are, our character, matters far more than what we do:

“My goal is that [you] may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that [you] may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that [you] may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2-3)

As Timothy Keller says, “God is more interested in who you are than in what you do. What you do in life flows from who you are.” Our identity is not in how busy we are, but in being adopted sons and daughters of God (1 John 3:1).

We need to regularly evaluate if our busyness is more about proving ourselves versus abiding in who God says we are. Being rather than doing should be our focus. Character goes much deeper than activity.

Busyness Can Lead to Spiritual Drift and Disconnect

In our busyness, we can often unintentionally crowd out time for building intimacy with God. Days turn into weeks which turn into months without meaningful time in Scripture, prayer, and Christian community.

But Jesus warns that a preoccupation with things of this world can lead to spiritual deadness:

“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” (Luke 8:14)

Good things like work and family are gifts from God. But they become thorns when they distract us from the best – from knowing and walking with Christ.

We need to be intentional about not letting busyness crowd out stillness with God. Marginless living can slowly lead to loveless living. We start running on empty spiritually.

Set necessary boundaries and cultivate daily spiritual disciplines to stay nourished in your soul as you run the race of life. Don’t just do great things FOR God – get to know Him personally as your friend.

God Calls Us to Seasons of Work and Rest

While busyness itself is not bad, and hard work is commendable, God also calls us to seasons of rest and renewal. Life is meant to have an ebb and flow, just like how God worked six days but rested on the seventh during creation (Genesis 2:2).

We are not designed to operate in constant motion. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrestles with finding meaning through endless work and projects. He concludes that everything is futile without God at the center:

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13)

There is a season for labor and a season for rest. We need to learn to flow with both. Times of vacation, Sabbath, and simplicity are gifts from God. Our work can become an idol if we don’t take divinely-appointed breaks from it.

Learning when to say no, set boundaries, and honor rest is crucial. As Jesus invites, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). God cares more about our pace of life than our productivity.

Loving and Serving Others Should Be Our Priority

One clear warning in Scripture against endless busyness is when it leads to lack of care for others. We can get so absorbed in our own agendas and to-do lists that people right in front of us get overlooked and neglected.

Jesus consistently rebukes those who pursue vain busywork rather than showing mercy:

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13)

No matter how important we think our agenda might be, people matter more. Loving your neighbor as yourself sums up God’s law (Matthew 22:36-40). And what God desires most is mercy. Our busyness should not prevent us from caring for those right in front of us.

This requires being fully present with people rather than always thinking about the next thing. As Paul says in Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Who do you need to love and serve today? That’s God’s priority over your to-do list.

We Need to Find Our Sufficiency in Christ, Not in Staying Busy

One of the greatest dangers of excessive busyness is using it to find purpose, meaning, and validation in life. Our human tendency is to stay busy to prove our worth and establish our identity. But this leads to burnout, emptiness, and disconnection from God.

Instead, our sufficiency needs to come from knowing Christ. This requires slowing down enough to dwell on God’s love for us:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Rather than endlessly striving, we need to learn from Jesus and find soul rest in Him. He tells us to abide in His love:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15:9-10)

Busyness will always leave us empty. Only Jesus can fill us with His perfect love. Our worth is found in being beloved children of God, not in activity and accomplishments.

Staying busy simply to prove ourselves or find meaning through achievement is exhausting. Our souls need us to regularly rest in who we are in Christ. That’s where true purpose is found.


Busyness is not inherently sinful, but it needs wisdom and discernment. We have to examine our motivations and align with God’s kingdom purposes rather than personal ambition. Activity without abiding leads to burnout and drift. Yet abiding without any fruit of service is meaningless as well.

The Bible calls us to find balance between work and rest, action and reflection, doing good and being still. Our relationship with God should be at the center, rather than endlessly trying to prove ourselves. Loving and serving others is more important than personal success.

May we learn when to say no, when to slow down, and when to simply sit at Jesus’ feet. In the midst of demanding seasons, let’s remember to stay nourished in His Word, in prayer, and in Christian community. Our souls need that anchor of abiding in God’s love, more than staying busy and active.

As Psalm 46:10 invites, “Be still, and know that I am God.” There is a sacred solitude in His presence that busyness can so easily crowd out. May we build our lives upon Christ our Rock, finding our true purpose, value, and rest in Him.

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