Get Busy, Christian, But Be Careful As You Do.

“Get busy living’, or get busy dyin’.”

That’s one of the enduring quotes from the movie The Shawshank Redemption, a story about a man falsely imprisoned for two murders and his efforts to cope with his sentence and, eventually, execute a daring break for freedom.

It’s a quote that resonates with all of us at some level, especially if you find yourself living a life that feels like drudgery. It can be coupled with a bunch of other truisms as well:

  • Life is short.
  • You can’t take it with you.
  • You only live once.

The sentiment is roughly the same – we have a finite amount of time on our hands, and each moment gone is a moment we will never get back. So don’t wait. Do something.

Of course, there are very, very wrong ways to take that advice. But there are also very, very right ways to take it. In fact, it’s not that dissimilar to a word from Paul the apostle in Ephesians 5:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15-16).

Of course, Paul isn’t talking about going bungee jumping or taking a vacation or buying the car you always wanted; his focus is on the gospel and taking every opportunity to extend the good news of Jesus. That’s the rightest right way to take the advice. 

So get moving, Christian. Do something. Serve. Help. Invest. Get busy living life for the sake of the kingdom. But how do we know if we are moving in the right direction? This is a legitimate question we should ask because even if our intentions are good, we might “get busy living” in the wrong direction.

Take Moses, for example. He wanted to get busy living. He wanted to see his people – God’s people – delivered from enslavement in Egypt. He wanted it so badly, in fact, that he took matters into his own hands and killed an Egyptian.

Or take Abram and Sarai. Abram had been promised that he would be the father of many nations, but time was ticking away, and still there were no children. They wanted to get busy living. They wanted it so badly, in fact, that Sarai told Abram to sleep with her servant, Hagar, so that this lineage could be started. They, too, took matters into their own hands.

So how can we, if we truly want to get busy living, try and make sure that we get moving in the right direction? At the risk of being too simplistic, the answer is that we get busy, but we get busy… 


That’s the word Paul used back in Ephesians 5. We should be careful how we live. But careful of what? Careful to not make a mistake? Careful to not associate with the wrong people? Careful not to squander the resources God has given to us? 

Yes, all those things, but also this – we should be careful not to presume upon the will of God. In the Book of James, we find this good word:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them (James 4:13-17).

Here we see that even as we try and get busy doing stuff, there may yet be pride and presumption lurking in our hearts. We make our plans, and then ask God to bless them, all the while we are trusting in our own strength, our own ingenuity, and our own resourcefulness. 

We should be careful. Careful of our own hearts, Of our own motives. We should be careful that we are not presuming upon the will of God.

So should we get busy living? Yes, we should. And yet we should do so with a very loose grip, always knowing that God will do what God will do. Our job is to follow after Him as we see Him leading, not to charge out in front and hope He will follow us.

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