To-Do vs Not-To-Do

Welcome to 2023!

My prep for this post took some interesting delays. 

First, there was a cat sitting on my computer completely blocking my screen view. 

Has anyone ever heard of writer’s block? This was Tink’s block. Giggling.

Second, when I opened my bible study software, it crashed with no hope of resurrection. I have been expecting this to happen eventually since the company that created it went out of business at least five years ago.

After encouragement from my husband, I pulled the trigger to purchase a new study software.

Third, while awaiting the software to download, I took a break to dish up a bowl of soup my husband had prepared. In the process, a small piece of celery landed on the side of my thumb, scalding it badly.

So now I had my hand wrapped in ice, also making it difficult to work on this post.

What is the point of this list of irritations making writing this post a challenge?

Some days, your intended “to-dos” receive unexpected and undesirable delays.

The question is, do you give up when this happens, or do you still follow through on your “to-dos?”

As I waited for my thumb to stop pulsing from the skin burn, I considered simply writing a short three-hundred-word Happy New Year message saying I would be back the following week.

But because of my initial thoughts of what I wanted to focus on, I forged ahead, even though it meant spending some evening hours to accomplish the task.

Many start a new year by making a list of resolutions.

If you are someone who makes new year’s resolutions, would you describe your list as a “to-do” or a “not-to-do” list? 

What value does this practice hold for you?

Most of the articles I am seeing published by all kinds of people seem to fall into the “to-do” category.

As I pondered this, I also thought about how, in the weeks of December, people were busy making lists for Christmas presents or cards to send. Children whose parents embrace Santa traditions were busy making lists of what they wanted to receive. And Santa, of course, is checking his list to see, well, you know.

My mind then pondered God’s to-do and not-to-do lists for us. 

There are several places throughout scripture one can turn to find examples of God’s to-do or not-to-do instructions. 

Take a moment to list any examples that come to your mind immediately.

If I were a betting person, I suspect most people’s first thoughts were of the ten commandments found in Exodus 20.

But what about the following, perhaps unexpected, examples?

Example One

6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted?[a] And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to[b] you, but you must rule over it.” 8 Cain spoke to Abel, his brother.[c] And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. (ESV Gen 4:6-8)

List the “to-do” and the “not-to-do” from the above passage.

What would have happened differently if Cain had heeded the Lord’s “to-do” and “not-to-do” instructions?

Example Two

2 but his delight is in the law[a] of the Lord,
    and on his law, he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Psalm 1:2-4

What is the “to-do” vs. the “not-to-do” in the above passage?

Describe the consequences if one does the “to-do” compared to the “not-to-do”.

Example Three 

1 O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
    Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
    and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
    and does no evil to his neighbor,
    nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
    and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.

Psalm 15

Make a list of the “to-dos” vs. the “not-to-dos” from this passage.

Example Four

3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the Lord
    and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob.[b] Selah

Psalm 24:3-6

Again, what are the “to-dos” vs. the “not-to-dos”?

In looking at these four passages that mention “to-dos” and “not-to-dos” either straightforwardly or poetically, consider the following three questions.

What did you learn about God?

What did you learn about yourself?

How can these passages help you in the year to come?

Back to my opening list of irritations that caused me to work later in the day to prepare this post than I typically desire. The call on my heart from God is to write Bible studies. If I let the myriad of irritations I experience keep me from pursuing this, then I am not answering His “to-do” for me.

Irritations and delays are a normal part of our daily lives. Sometimes the delays force us to take a break as I did in December because of illness. But the delays I experienced the day I worked on this post did not justify opting to do a shorter post this time.

Besides answering this “to-do” from God, I also hope to encourage each reader of these missives to seek God’s call for themselves.

May 2023 be a year of fresh Biblical insight for each of you.

Until next week!


Barbara Lynn


2 Replies to “To-Do vs Not-To-Do”

  1. Barbara,
    This is an excellent Bible study! May I share it with my neighbors? We meet every Monday night for Bible study. The study you have posted here is perfect for beginning the new year. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *