Tag Archives: Trifle

Another Form of Trifling

Read Exodus 20:8-11

So I commend enjoyment because there’s nothing better for people to do under the sun but to eat, drink, and be glad. This is what will accompany them in their hard work, during the lifetime that God gives under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 8:15 CEB)

  America was founded on what I call the Puritan ethic. That ethic is deeply ingrained in the theology held by Puritans who were TULIP Calvinists. “What is TULIP, you might ask?” It stands for the following:

  • Total Depravity
  • Unconditional Election 
  • Limited Atonement 
  • Irresistable Grace 
  • Perserverance of the Saints 

In essence, this theological position states that humans are totally depraved and filled to the core with sin, that God elects those whom God elects due to God’s will and NOT due to any sort of condition, that Jesus only died for the elect (whoever they are) and not for anyone else, that those who are elect cannot resist God’s grace, and that once one is elect one is always elect. One cannot lose their election or their salvation.

Of course, no one can know whether they are elect or not. Not even the Puritans knew whether or not they were elect, though they believed certain things were signs of election. One of the biggest signs was how hard one worked. If one was a hard worker, and did not trifle time away, that was a sign that one was possibly elect. It wasn’t guaranteed, but it was a sign.

This may sound absolutely ludicrous to you. I mean, who in their right mind would even remotley point to a merit-based measure of Christian Salvation. Of course, the Puritans would say that hard work does not earn salvation, but just that a hard work ethic is a sign of one being saved. It is the fruit of salvation, so-to-speak. So, it would be a complete and total misunderstanding to say that TULIP Calvanists such as the Puritans ever thought one could earn their own salvation. With that said, their theology put hard work into the soul of America.

You might now be asking, what in the world is wrong with that? In and of itself, hard work is a good thing, right? It is what has propelled America and the world into progress. As a huge Disney fan I think of the Carousel of Progress, which shows how our society has amazingly progressed from the turn of the twentieth century to where we are in the twenty-first century. Yet, in that progression I can also see the downside of a world that continually moves and never stops to slow down or take a pause.

In my last devotion, I wrote how time is of the essence and how Rev. John Wesley (following the guidance of Scripture) had the rule of never trfiling away time and/or of never being trifingly employed. This is an important rule, for sure; yet, I will put forth the following proposition, which I feel is an important addendeum to John Wesley’s rule: resting, the observation of Sabbath and holy rest, is an important time to not be trifled with. Working without cessation is trifling with God’s time as much as is working mindlessly without purpose on unimportant tasks.

Today’s challenge is for us to start to work hard at resting, at observing Sabbath. We can do that by making sure we take regular time off. We can do that by ensuring that we do things that bring us fulfillment and enjoyment. While it is important to work hard for the glory of God, it is just important that we rest and that we play. Just as God works, finds enjoyment in creative playfulness and rests, so too it is important that we do not let the Puritan work ethic get the best of us and our souls.


“If you don’t take a Sabbath, something is wrong. You’re doing too much, you’re being too much in charge. You’ve got to quit, one day a week, and just watch what God is doing when you’re not doing anything.” – Eugene H. Peterson


Lord, help me to see that rest and the enjoyment of play are equally as important as hard work. Amen.

Never Trifle

Read Ephesians 5:15-21


“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs‬ ‭16:3‬ ‭CEB)‬‬‬‬

  Time. Our lives are shaped by it, wrapped around it, dictated by it. The world operates on it and schedules are formed on it. Time is measured by numbers on a clock. It’s marked in boxes on a thing we call a calendar. We record time when we punch into our jobs, we structure our music with it, and we even call our meeting records “minutes.”

What’s more, churches become institutions of time. Rev. John Wesley believed that because time was short, every moment in time needed to be occupied with holy work and that one should not trifle away time. As a pastor, I always try to be a “good steward of time” during our worship services and, no doubt, many pastors are quickly told whether or not they are starting and/or ending worship too late.

Beyond the physical function of time in the church institution, time is also laden in our theology and in the Bible itself. “In the Beginning” (Genesis 1), “a season” or a time “for everything under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 3), “making the most of your time” (Ephesians 5:16), “I am the beginning and the end” (Revelation 1:8), and others all signify the importance of time for humanity.

Yet, I believe that time can also become our proverbial golden calf, a false idol in our lives. Time is too often used in a way that enables us to be busy, preoccupied, scurrying, workers of the tediously mundane. Let me repeat that again. Time is too often used in a way that enables us to be busy, preoccupied, scurrying, workers of the tediously mundane. In other words, we fill up time rather than purposefully manage and utilize it for the glory of God.

As a pastor, I don’t have to work hard at being busy and being busy keeps me working hard, no doubt. There is more to be done daily in the life of the church than any one pastor or person could possibly accomplish. My time, as is the case with all servant leaders, is spent filled with the busy-ness of the church. Also, on top of being a pastor, I serve on a couple of committees and I am active in the life of the church beyond the local congregation I serve. To add to that, I am a son, a husband, a father, and a friend; therefore, I have important and vital relationships that I need to maintain and be actively engaged in.

These realities are not just realities for pastors alone, but for all people. You, no doubt, are a busy person with much to do and vitally important relationships to maintain and be actively engaged in. You, if you are a Christian who is actively engaged in a local congregation somewhere, are incredibly busy doing the work in the life of the church.

Here’s the potential pitfall to all that I have written above. God does not call us to be “busy”, nor does God deem our busy-ness to be the best use of our time. Yes, God calls us to serve the church and to be the body of Christ. Yes, God calls us to bring the Gospel message to all people. Yes, God calls us to diligently bring hope, healing and wholeness to people sorely in need of it. But a lot of the work we do, if we are completely honest, does not answer that call as much as it fills up our time.

The challenge for all of us as human beings, as children of God, is the following: To not “trifle our time away” with the mundane work that keeps us from answering God’s call. Every moment is a sacred moment and should be kept holy. We should work diligently, but we should also use mundane work as an excuse as to why we don’t have the time to do the things God has called us to. What’s more, God has called us set time apart to rest, to be renewed, and to be recharged (aka Sabbath). Remember, we should never trifle with time but should glorify God with our use of the time we have by working diligently, serving efficiently, and resting religiously.


“Be diligent. Never be unemployed a moment. Never be triflingly employed. Never while away time; neither spend more time at any place than is strictly necessary.” – John Wesley, from Wesley’s Twelve Rules of a Helper


Lord, help me to steer clear of trifling the time you have given me. Amen.