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Biff came home from a long day at work. As his two little children glowingly looked up into their daddy’s face, he announced to his family that it was “me time.” He maneuvered around Biffy and Biffina while tapping them on their heads.
To the fridge, he went to grab his Miller Lite. Mable’s smile turned inwardly sour as she attempted to hide her sadness and anger. She had conflicting tensions in her soul. “What about me? When do I get ‘me time?’ Do you realize the bitter seed you’re sowing in your children? I understand you’re tired, and it’s been a long day, but sometimes we can’t get what we want.”
Rather than voicing her thoughts out loud, she tucked them away, hoping that somehow God would intervene in her husband’s life. She didn’t believe that God would speak in her husband’s life. Still, she is a Christian, so she defaulted to an “expected” Christian response, especially in light of her odd and unbiblical training about being submissive in “all ways” to her husband.
Biff enjoyed his beer while updating his Fantasy Football League. Biff loves playing Fantasy Football with the boys at work. They work hard together, and they play hard together. The tension in Biff and Mable’s home is typical among many married couples. I dare say that their stress is more unspoken than spoken. Most wives are aware of the tension. The husbands may not be as mindful, or worse, they could choose to ignore it.
I’m not sure “me time” has been around since the beginning of time, though I suspect it has surfaced through the centuries with other terminology. For example, in Genesis 3, we see the first occurrence of what appears to be “me time.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate (Genesis 3:6).
The Bible does not make a case for “me time,” in the sense that we understand the term—being lazy. The Bible would put forth a 180-degree spin to this concept. For example, look at what Paul had to say about “me time.”
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).
If you read the context in Philippians, you will notice that Paul contextualizes the idea of “non-me-time.” He is appealing to the Philippians to think less about themselves and more like Jesus—the one who died for others. The Savior weighed in on the “me time worldview” when He answered the Pharisee’s question about which were the greatest of the 600 plus laws in the Old Testament.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).
Paul and Jesus were evident in how they ranked relational priorities: God first, others second, and ourselves last. This perspective is a picture of the gospel as well as a gospel-imperative. The gospel-centered individual will automatically think about God and others before they think about themselves.
The question that lazy, self-centered thinking people will raise is, “What about me?” And the “other-centered worldview” does not have the “me” in it. Or you could say that there is an implication of the “me” in “other-centered thinking.” The “me” is the one who is serving God and others. According to the gospel, the “me” comes into play when you love God and others more than yourself. Without the “me,” there is no gospel.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
To get to the heart of the matter, you will recognize that a misplaced pleasure creates a misplaced treasure. The problem with me-centered thinking is that the focus is wrong on two counts: (1) there is a pleasure-disorder in the heart and (2) there is a treasure-disorder in the behaviors. Take Biff as an example. Let’s first look at a few of his many qualities.
The problem is not that Biff can’t think about people; he does think about people, the wrong people, and puts them in the wrong order. He prioritizes himself first, friends second, family third, and the Lord may (or may not) be in the picture. Juxtapose Biff’s thought life—what he ponders—with that of the apostle Paul.
At times, Paul was seemingly overwhelmed by the great affection he had for the Corinthian people. Though his love for other people was quite profound, I think it is particularly instructive to understand his affection for arguably the people who hated him the most.
For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you (2 Corinthians 2:4).
Is that how you think about the other people in your life, especially those who are close to you? Do they see and experience the abundant love that you have for them? Paul was a beautiful imitation of the Savior as he suffered many afflictions because of his determined desire to see Christ formed in the Corinthians. He had a similar compelling when it came to the challenges of the churches in Galatia.
My little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you (Galatians 4:19)!
Are you in “the anguish of childbirth” until Christ forms Himself in those you love? Wow! Thank God for His grace to us all. Paul had one objective: that Christ establishes Himself in the people who received his care. He derived his greatest pleasure when helping others become like Jesus Christ. It was not about what he received, but about what he could give to others.
Thus, Biff is not a lazy man. Biff has a pleasure-disorder: he finds pleasure in the things that are out-of-line with the gospel. Biff is not a dumb man either. He is quite smart. He knows how to plan, strategize, and win. He can pre-meditate and multi-task well. The problem with Biff is not that he has a low IQ or is dull. Biff excels at what he puts his mind to do.
He is not the kind of guy you have to handhold. There are some people you assign a task, and then you have to watch, coddle, and motivate them to see the mission come to fruition. This worldview is not Biff. As the saying goes, “He can ‘git’er’ done.” The real issue with Biff is that his heart problem—pleasure disorder—leads to a behavioral problem, which is the treasure disorder. His eye is on the wrong prize.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).
People are not inconsistent or incongruent with themselves. Who we are on the inside, and what we do on the outside are close in proximity. If you want to know who a person is at the level of their heart, spend time observing what they do. You can start with these two excellent heart questions: What characterizes you? And who are you?
These two questions are heart-related, and you can only intuit your answers from spending time with them. Though anyone can choose to sin or do “good deeds” with the wrong motives, you won’t understand them accurately until you assess them over time, through comprehensive observation.
Biff is probably a Christian. At times, he probably does good things, as all Christians do. But these good things are not how you would characterize him. There is a difference between “episodic good behavior” and a “pattern of good behavior.” When Biff is not “on stage” or expected to be a certain way, he defaults to his real self, not that representative of himself. The real Biff is when he is in his home. If you want to know a person, observe them when no one is around.
The real issue is rarely about working versus being lazy. It’s typically about how you want to spend your time, or how you want to work.
I’ve lived long enough to know there is no time for rest in this life. There is a rest for the people of God, but that ultimate rest will come in heaven, not on earth. Some folks have an “over-realized eschatology” where they want heaven on earth, so they create a self-centered lifestyle that gratifies their most prominent cravings. A quick snapshot of how some of our brothers and sisters worked in the Old Testament gives you a vision and incentive for what your life could be for the others you influence.
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Hebrews 11:37-38).
While God is not calling you to “a stoning” or for someone to saw you in half—at least not yet, He is calling you to another world. The question for today is, which world is worthy of your time and talents?
Biff could repent to his wife and children if he wanted to do that. But first, he will need to re-examine why he is living on planet earth. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with Fantasy Football or Facebook, those things should never interfere with the privilege we have of instilling the gospel in others.
Biff has an incredible opportunity in his home and with his wife and children. He can do eternal work in their lives. The investment he can make in them is priceless. But he will have to believe this. His heart will have to change. He will need a transformation of his pleasures before he can make that kind of investment. The more significant question is whether he will put himself under the scrutiny of God to have a heart change. If he does, the things that he treasures will take a dramatic shift.
And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12-13).