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Your worth is not in your to-do list

Marci Turner » Home Heart Planning Gospel

Who doesn’t have a to-do list?  For some, it’s on a scrap of paper. For others, it’s an app on your phone. If you’re old school, it might be a day planner. Or if like me, it’s all three.

A recent film even dramatized the mental to-do list as an anxious working mom often woke up at three in the morning remembering the things she needed to do.

We all make lists of things that need to get done along with things we want to get done, but what happens when our lives become defined by our to-do list? 

Issues of identity

Our approach to our to-do lists can reveal issues of our identity. These little lists can actually become a window to our soul and reveal our take on faith. If it’s nothing more than a simple organizational tool, then that’s great, but if it brings anxiety, condemnation, or restlessness, then it has become an idol. Our identity is all wrapped up in what we can accomplish or what we can check off the to-do list.

The curse of the to-do list

Paul writes, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them’” (Galatians 3:10). When we become too wrapped up in getting things done, our to-do list is a curse, a never-diminishing, impossible effort. Just like it’s impossible for us to keep and abide by all of God’s law, it’s impossible to ever finish the to-do list, as there will always be more tasks to complete.

The good news

Jesus last words on the cross were, “It is finished” (John 19:30). We can’t earn our way to heaven by checking off the never-ending list of tasks called the law. When Jesus became the final, perfect, and complete sacrificial lamb, our sins were covered with his blood and God’s wrath was appeased. With his resurrection, we are extended new life. Our work then becomes a joyful response to salvation, not tasks to get done. Jesus fulfills all the law, and his gospel of grace obliterates the to-do list our souls want to keep. He gives us a new identity in Christ and not the things we do.

How are you doing?

Are you too caught up in your to-do list? Are you finding your worth in getting things done? Do you feel unsettled, like I do, when you don’t seem to be getting anything done? Remember, our enemy, Satan, wants to distract us from the truth of the gospel. As my friend says, “We need to preach the gospel to ourselves everyday. Otherwise, we forget it.” So today when you write out your to-do list, at the top write, “Jesus – Done.”


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