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Does Margin Really Work?

If Pastor Dan’s message* wasn’t enough, let me add my own testimony to his: I’ve seen the benefits of margin in my own life.  For instance, despite the pressure to get more and more things done, I find that a good night’s sleep gives me the ability to be more sharp and focused at work the next day.  It would be easy to stay up later or get up earlier, just to “get ahead”, but it doesn’t actually seem to work that way.  (See also Modern-Day Manna.)

Where I work, a wise manager once told me that it’s not the hours in the week that limit how much you can accomplish, it’s your mental capacity.  Indeed, sometimes a little margin helps me recharge my mental batteries, and either give me the ability to get more done…or the clarity to see that it will still be there tomorrow.  While this advice was presented to me in a “secular” environment, many business authors have discovered what God already told us: that margin is part of God’s design, and is fundamental to his plan for us.

Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
Mark 2:27 NASB


My wife and I also fight (against external pressures – not with each other) to keep margin for our own family.  Sunday afternoons and evenings are reserved for family time at our house.  We try to get some rest (remember, Jesus took advantage of times of rest – see Matthew 8:24), and sometimes the Sunday evening meal is a family picnic with a blanket spread on the living room floor.  That’s even meant skipping out on church events sometimes, not because those events aren’t good (or because we are legalistic about family time on Sundays), but because we want to leave margin for what might happen when our family spends time together.

I’m not suggesting that these are the right solutions for you – after all, I don’t want to add another “event” to your schedule.  These are just some example of where margin has proven its value for me.

Genesis 18 gives us an example of someone (Abraham) who made time to show hospitality to three visitors.  He stopped and met with them, rather than just telling his wife or servants to give them some food while he attended to other business matters.  As a result, Abraham ended up receiving a message from God.  Read Genesis 18:1-15, and see if you are inspired to make room in your life for God’s messages and opportunities, too.


See also other articles about “margin”:


A version of this devotion originally appeared at fcccanton.com, as a Study Guide for the September 8, 2013 message, “The God of Order”.  Re-used by permission

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.

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