Go Deeper with Andy B as he explains how we can avoid distractions.
He looks at both of this week’s Scriptures…
“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”
…and Hebrews 12:1-2:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne God.”
He talks especially about how we need to focus on our goal in order to avoid distractions.
Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God (With a word to wives from Carolyn Mahaney): What Every Christian Husband Needs to Know
Feminine Appeal (Redesign): Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother
So for GoDeeper, Avoiding Distraction.
And my first thought when I looked at this, actually I remembered a book that I read last night - which has got nothing to do with this subject whatever - but it speaks perfectly into this. We'll come to that in a moment.
But I was thinking about avoiding distraction, and I was thinking about the Scriptures, and one of the things that really strikes me - which I want to keep reiterating: if we're trying to work on our spiritual exercise, and what we have to do, the really reassuring, comforting thing, is this is nothing to do with our effort, because the effort was made by Jesus Christ on the cross.
Because Scripture reminds us that we don't look at our feet, as to avoid distraction.
We look up to Jesus Christ.
We remember what He has already done.
And in looking up, that's the process that we go. We look up and things tend to resolve themselves really rather well.
There's a song many, years ago, and some people got very upset because one of the lines in the song is "and in his presence our problems disappear".
'Will that's not theologically correct.' Well, perhaps not, erm, in some ways. But do you know what? When you're next to God, your problems do disappear - against the beauty and magnificence and all the other stuff that God is.
So as much as the problems don't disappear, they certainly appear to disappear.
Let's just jump into these two scriptures.
I'm gonna start in Hebrews 12 and we'll jump to Proverbs.
This is Hebrews chapter 12, verses 1 and 2.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin, which clings so closely. And let us run with endurance, the race that is set before us. Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame in his seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
And there's the first reminder that our effort has already been done by Jesus: w cannot bridge the gap between us and Jesus Christ - it is utterly impossible!
Therefore, the only way to have that gap bridged is what Jesus has already done, and cannot do again: it is finished!
Let's just jump now to Proverbs, er, chapter 4, verses 25 through 27:
"Let your eyes look directly forward, and let your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet and all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left. Turn your foot away from evil".
And this is again, if we're thinking about the process involved here and avoiding distraction, we look up to Jesus Christ, not down to what our abilities are, because our abilities are never ever going to be able to match what Jesus Christ has already done.
For each and every one of us, whether we've chosen to follow Him or not, it has already been done.
Now, last night, I was reading a book - which is brilliant; I recommend it. "Sex, Romance and the Glory of God" by CJ Mahaney. It's got some really good stuff. And the very last chapter is where I want to go to, and it's not written by him at all - it's actually written by his wife Caroline. Mahaney.
And it was really striking me, as we were thinking about avoiding distraction.
Now, erm, this chapter in particular was written for husbands and wives, and people who are intending to be married - just to give you a bit of context.
And it's all about how do you maintain a purity towards your other half; towards your husband, your or wife? How do we do that as Christians?
So I'm going to read this section of the book.
"Before we attempt to put to death, sexual immorality, impurity, evil desire, etc, in our lives, we must first seek things that are above. Growth in purity can only be realised as we look up to Jesus Christ. Does that mean that we minimise or dismiss impurity in our lives? Does this indicate that God is tolerant of evil desire or sexual immorality? Of course not. God neither makes light of, nor ignores, our sin. He hates sin. This is why Jesus had to die on the cross. Our Saviour's death, Saviour's death, not only secures our forgiveness for sin but also demands our departure from sin and provides us with the power we need to overcome sin."
It's about Jesus!
"Let us never forget to put thing, first things first. Let us never forget to put first things first. Our conquest of sin begins with a deliberate resolve to set our hearts and minds on things above, as we contemplate what Christ has done for us, we'll be compelled to pursue purity for his glory."
And that's from the book that she wrote that also mirrors what her husband wrote. Brilliant books; I'd recommend both. We'll put links on for those.
But did you hear what she was saying?
If we want to pursue something good, then it's not our effort, it's the effort that Christ has made. If we want to walk towards Jesus Christ; be disciples of Him; come more and more like him, it's not our effort, it's the effort that's already made.
Fruit of the spirit - another brilliant example: fruit of the spirit isn't something that we grow because we were really, really hard and we'll get better at it. No, No. Fruit of the spirit is the spontaneous outpouring of the Holy Spirit, through, us as we walk with Jesus. It's not what we do, it's what happens as a result of our relationship with Jesus.
So if you don't want to be distracted in your walk with Jesus Christ, whether thinking about running, and cycling, and making sure you stay in that lane. Well you need to know roughly where the lane is. But that's not the most important thing.
The most important thing is the goal - where is it you're heading?
I said this analogy before: learning to ride a motorbike, you don't look in front of the bike, you look way down the road, where do you wanna go?
Cyclists. When they're in a peloton and they're all together, and going down a hill, and it's really, really fast. Well, yeah - what's happening directly in front of them kind of matters, but what's happening 50 yards away, 50 metres - or whatever (depending on which part of the world you're from) really matters. Where is the bike gonna be in 50 metres?
Well they're surrounded by people who pretty much know what they're doing, and short of a catastrophic accident they're all going to keep going: so where's my bike gonna be; where are my feet gonna be in the running lane; where's our heart gonna be?
One of the things that's really important, is if something is causing us to sin, or we're becoming tempted towards sin, two things we need to really remember.
1. if we're thinking about it, it's just as bad as singing. It's just the way it is. God looks at our heart; it isn't just about our actions - we can cover; we can hide our browser history. Yeah, sure, but we've still done it; we've still thought about it or whatever it is we're doing.
Having a thought about somebody of hatred - it's as if we killed them. To God, it's a sin.
2. And being distracted and not spending time with God is a sin. Because if we're in a right relationship with the Lord of Lords, and the King of Kings, we're going to want to be more like him.
So those two things - let's make sure that whatever we're doing in terms of avoiding distraction that we remember there's nothing we can do to get more like Jesus, without what He has already done.
Our effort towards the cross, is only made possible in the 1st place because of the sacrifice that Jesus has already made. It is finished!
So in the week ahead when distractions come: too much TV; not doing that exercise; whether it's physical or spiritual - are all matters to God.
But if we want to avoid distraction, let's make sure, that no matter what's going on, we look up first to Jesus Christ - as the Scriptures reminded us twice and that, and I read that in the book.
Let's look up to Jesus first, not at our feet.
Because when we put Jesus in front of us; when we put him as our goal and our focus, everything else will just resolve itself.
Might take time. We have to work through it. Doesn't make it all nice and easy…
When we focus on Jesus Christ, everything else will fall into place.
Let's avoid distractions - by looking to the one person who can truly help us focus on Him, and be the best versions of ourselves that we can be - as you walk with Jesus Christ.
Written by Andy B