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Got Margin?

Busy. That is a good word to describe most of our lives. I know it is a word that I could use to describe mine. Me and my beautiful wife have a 12 year old daughter, a 4 year old daughter and a 4 month old son that keep us moving. Just the laundry alone can eat up a good chunk of our time. I am so grateful for my wife Grace and the amazing helpmate that she is. But even between us both getting everyone where they need to go, keeping things clean around the house, making sure everyone is fed and bathed, homework is done and all of those things takes up a lot of time in and of itself. Add on top of that the different activities our daughters are involved in and the care and attention a baby requires and even more time is now gone from the day. For myself I have been blessed to pastor a growing campus of an amazing church and so on top of everything else going on I have a full time ministry. I also take a few college courses on line slowly earning my degree in Christian studies. So yeah busy is a good word for my life right now. Maybe you can relate?

All of these things are good things and even necessary but at the end of the day it doesn’t leave much room for opportunities that might arise outside of what is already on the calendar because we have built out our day to the edges. Take for instance this blog. I love to write (not sure I am very good at it but I love to do it). It is very therapeutic for me and I pray that it blesses people but this is the first time I sat down to write since July of last year. The reason why I haven’t written a post in 8 months is because I really haven’t had the time to do so and even while I write this I have all the things I need to do today nagging at me in the back of my mind! And in my mind I can justify all of the things I have to do today and that I woke up early and will go to bed late again tonight because I had a full day of work and whats wrong with that?

Well, the problem with living life to the very edge of your calendar is it is not what God wants you to do because it leaves no margin in your life for the God opportunities that arise. We have no margin to be a blessing to people God puts in our path that we hadn’t planned on meeting. How many people have we ran right by, passed right by that we see are in need of some help, some prayer, some word of encouragement or just a loving act of kindness but we don’t stop because we are on our way to that next thing so we can hurry up and get to that next thing afterwards? How many times have we thought I would like to help but I just don’t have the time. Sadly, this happens so often and becomes the norm to the point that we might not even notice those around us who are in need anymore like we once did!

I am afraid many of us have allowed our busyness to turn us into the priest and Levite of Jesus’s story recorded in Luke 10. If your not familiar with this passage of Scripture it is what is referred to as the Good Samaritan. In this story Jesus is telling to these religious individuals how a man was on his way to Jerusalem when he was beating and robbed and left for dead. As he lay on the side of the road a priest came by and saw the man. However, he did not stop he just kept going. Likewise a Levite came by, saw the man and he just kept on going. Many have speculated they were scared that the robbers could still be around and so out of fear they didn’t stop or maybe they were just so hard hearted they had no compassion and that is why they didn’t stop. What we do know is that a Samaritan, who were despised by the Jews, was coming along that same road as he was heading to the next thing on his calendar but he stops. He ministers aid to this man and then even puts him on his donkey (so now he’s walking), takes him to an inn and in the morning (meaning he stayed at the inn overnight to care for this man) told the owner of the inn that if his expenses ran over the amount of money he left for the man to stay there and recover he would pay the remaining owed when he came back by. I think what plagued the priest and the Levite is what plagues most of us…we have no margin in our lives to stop. It’s not that we don’t want to it’s just we haven’t allowed ourselves the time to do so by leaving margin in our lives.

Now all three of these individuals the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan all were headed into Jerusalem to do something – they all three had certain plans. I think the Samaritan stopped  when the others didn’t for two reasons. The first is as Martin Luther King Jr. stated in a sermon he preached on this text and that is the priest and the Levite were more concerned with what would happen to them if they stopped where the Samaritan was more concerned with what would happen to the man if he didn’t. Two, the Samaritan had figured out the benefit and joy of leaving margin in his life. We would all be well served to do the same.

In the book of Leviticus in the 19th chapter God’s word starts laying out what the fruit of holiness looks like. In the first verse God instructs His people to be holy as He is holy. The word holy carries with it the idea of one having been set apart for something uncommon and extraordinary and for us as followers of Christ today that timeless principle is that God has set us apart for the work of the Lord but in order to fulfill that fully we need to have margin in our lives so that when we encounter those broken and hurting we can stop and minister to them as the Samaritan man did. As you continue to read the 19th chapter of Leviticus you come to verses 9 and 10 and some very interesting instructions God gives that have a great implication for us today in the area of margin.

 “When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:9-10 NLT

Do you see what God is saying to the Israelites and subsequently the timeless principle He is speaking to us today? Don’t harvest to the very edges of the fields God has provided for us. Don’t spend up all the time of each day God has given you to the very edge where there is none left. Don’t harvest to the very edge of your finances either. No God is instructing us to leave margin in our lives; but why? Well, verse 10 tells us…so that others the “poor and the foreigners” could come along and find enough for themselves. Leaving margin in our lives is not for ourselves so much as it is for others so we can be a blessing to them. The more margin we leave in our lives the more opportunities we afford ourselves to be Good Samaritans stopping for those who are hurting and ministering to them in their time of need.

Don’t waste all the wheat and grapes of your time and treasures on yourself! When we don’t leave margin in our lives (either in the field of our time or finances) we don’t leave room for ourselves to respond to all the God opportunities that present themselves every day and to be a blessing to someone who is laying beating up and hurting on the side of the road of life.

Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. – Col. 4:5 HCSB