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How Can We as Christians Choose People over Tasks?

Emma Danzey

Contributing Writer
Published Jan 10, 2024
How Can We as Christians Choose People over Tasks?

Good deeds (tasks) are not a bad thing in and of themselves. Matthew teaches us that the purpose of them is to praise God and to let our lights shine so others would be witnessed to. The ultimate hope is that others can have a relationship with Jesus. This poses questions like, “Is my task meaningful?” or “Is the Lord glorified in this?”

I’m doing it again. I am getting so caught up in the dishes that need to be done but missing out on play time with my son. Why do I care about the material items more than an eternal soul?

I’m doing it again. I am half listening to my friend who is sharing her heart because I am thinking about the workload I took on this week. Why can I not seem to slow down and be present in the moment?

I’m doing it again. I am grocery shopping so quickly that I didn’t even think to talk with the cashier and ask how they were doing today.

If we are not careful, the “to do” can take the place of the people in front of us. What does the Bible says about loving people over tasks?

There is no greater place to which we can go for answers than the Word of God. The Bible is a place where we can learn and grow in our understanding of who the Lord is and what He says. Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” In a similar way we can easily go to our Bibles as a check-off. However, we are essentially pursuing a relationship and knowing Jesus more when we study the Bible.

So, what does God have to say about us putting the tasks at hand above the people around? Let’s hear His heart and purpose behind His answers.

Choosing the Relationship Is the Greater Option

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lords feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, dont you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘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 10:38-42).

Martha missed the person of Jesus because of the preparations. I recently heard a convicting idea, that entertainment is when we feel like we have to clean up and host, but hospitality is when we welcome someone else into the mess of our lives to do life (Habits of the Household).

Mary knew to direct her focus on Jesus. He had her full attention and heart. Martha was “distracted by all the preparations.” Tasks are not essentially evil, however they can become distractions from the most important relationships. First, we each need to ask, am I focused on loving Jesus or just going through a spiritual checklist? Second, we each need to ask, am I caring more about the tasks around me, or the people in front of me?

Tasks Can Have Relational Purposes

"In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

Good deeds (tasks) are not a bad thing in and of themselves. Matthew teaches us that the purpose of them is to praise God and to let our lights shine so others would be witnessed to. The ultimate hope is that others can have a relationship with Jesus. This poses questions like, “Is my task meaningful?” or “Is the Lord glorified in this?” We can become more aware of the purpose of our to do list and pray by asking God to help us to do our actions from the right place of love for Him and others.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23).

Colossians also backs up this concept. Whatever we do is ultimately for the glory of God. This re-centers our hearts on the gift of love. When we are working from a place of resting in our identity in Christ, our task overflows from a strong understanding of Who we represent.

Slow Down and See Others

“In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him’” (Luke 10:30-34).

One of the most beautiful, heroic accounts of kindness and selflessness was the good Samaritan, whom Jesus mentions in Luke 10. A Jewish man was attacked and left half dead on the road. A Priest and a Levite each passed by him and refused to help. How heartless do you have to be? Could they have been too focused on their religious duties? They were supposedly closer to God. However the Samaritan, the unsung hero, stepped in and rescued this man. He saw the man in need and took action. His acts of bandaging and dressing the Jewish man’s wounds were out of selfless love.

We might be thinking that we would never be so hard-hearted to leave someone dying next to us on the street. However, what about the many people spiritually dying all around us every day who need to be seen and spoken to? What about that coffee shop barista? Or that girl looking saddened on a bench downtown? What about the kid who is being bullied at school? How about the co-worker who just wants a friend to eat lunch with sometime? Or the janitor cleaning the bathroom? Do we truly care about the people around us and their needs? Is our speed of life and the “Get it done” mentality breeding self-centered decisions? Can we let go and slow down our pace to listen and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading?

The Second Greatest Commandment

“And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:38).

We are called to love others. Maybe you think that doing a task is equivalent to love? This can be part of showing love to another. But, if we neglect to be present by only doing service work for others, we forsake the relational depth and closeness.

One of the ways that I have challenged myself this year is instead of having a “to-do” list, I create a “People to Love” list. It reminds me that God has called me to care for certain people today or this week and how I am going to rise to the occasion in word, presence, and tasks. Tasks are not bad when put in the correct place in our lives. May all that we do be done out of love.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/People Images

Emma DanzeyEmma Danzey’s mission in life stems from Ephesians 3:20-21, to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. She is wife to Drew and mom to Graham. Emma serves alongside her husband in ministry, she focuses most of her time in the home, but loves to provide articles on the Bible, life questions, and Christian lifestyle. Her article on Interracial Marriage was the number 1 on Crosswalk in 2021. Most recently, Emma released Treasures for Tots, (Scripture memory songs) for young children. During her ministry career, Emma has released Wildflower: Blooming Through Singleness, two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, and ran the Refined Magazine. You can view her articles on her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com and check out her Instagram @Emmadanzey.