In today’s world, it is easy to get distracted. In fact, distractions are the cause of most accidents. But what about our spiritual life? Can distractions get in the way there as well?
How many of us have been driving down the road, maybe talking to the other person in the car, listening to the radio or just looking at a beautiful sunset, when suddenly we realize we missed our exit? This is a classic example of being distracted. If this hasn’t happened to you yet, don’t worry—it will one day.
“What Causes Most Car Accidents?” This was the title of an article in The Washington Post. The article said that cell phones have become a common cause of car accidents. However, the largest study to date on crashes involving distracted drivers found that rubbernecking causes far more accidents than does cell phone use.
Drivers looking at other accidents, traffic or roadside incidents caused the largest number of accidents. Comparatively, cell phone use ranked as the sixth highest cause. The study included data on more than 2,700 accidents involving distracted drivers between June and November 2002 Distractions from inside the vehicle accounted for 62 percent of the distractions reported, while distractions from outside the vehicle accounted for 35 percent (3 percent of the distractions were undetermined). There were many more details and statistics, but I believe you get the drift here. Distraction is the culprit.
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) defines distraction as follows: Distraction \Dis-'trac-tion\, n. [L. distractio: cf. F. distraction.] 1. The act of distracting; a drawing apart; separation. To create distractions among us. 2. That which diverts attention; a diversion. “Domestic distractions.” G. Eliot. 3. A diversity of direction; detachment. (obs.) 4. State in which the attention is called in different ways; confusion; perplexity…That you may attend upon the Lord without distraction. 1 Corinthians:7:35. syn. perplexity; confusion; disturbance; disorder; dissension; tumult; derangement; madness; raving; franticness; furiousness.
What is spiritual distraction?
As God’s people, we have a responsibility to be good examples to those around us. If we lose sight of this responsibility even for a moment, we are in danger of having a spiritual accident. We don’t have any statistics for the leading cause of our spiritual accidents, but I would venture to say that, much like car accidents, it would be distractions.
So just what is a spiritual distraction?
Distractions from inside the vehicle accounted for 62 percent of the distractions reported, while distractions from outside the vehicle accounted for 35 percent.
Many of us can relate to driving on the freeway and trying to obey the speed limit as people rush on by us. This can be a serious distraction. A spiritual distraction could be the boss that rides you harder than your coworkers. It could be that coworker who takes credit for the work that you do. Maybe it’s the neighbor who makes too much noise when you are trying to sleep, or lets his trash blow into your yard. What if you own your own business? It could be that one customer who is never happy.
You could probably add many more ideas to this list, but when these types of trials and distractions happen, are we focused on Jesus?
The point is that when we allow these things to get to us, we are led into sin. Sin and bad attitudes are not good examples of how God wants us to be. Although it may often be difficult, we must maintain our cool and not allow ourselves to be caught up in what is happening around us.
Let’s take the example of the neighbor’s garbage that blows into our yard and consider some of the options you have. You can:
1. Take the garbage back to your neighbor’s yard and shred it to tiny pieces on their doorstep.
2. Call the police.
3. Go to your neighbor’s house and scream terrible things at him.
4. Knock on the neighbor’s door and explain the situation in a kindly fashion.
5. Cut off all contact with the neighbor and sneer when they look your way.
Which scenario would you choose? While it seems an easy answer, it is not what most often occurs. We often let our human nature kick in, and throw both common sense and God’s way right out the door.
Matthew:6:23 tells us; “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
It’s only human
Are we focused on the Kingdom and God’s plan, or do we get sidetracked and become angry just like the world around us? It’s human nature to retaliate when someone hurts us, but is that what we should do?
As God’s people, we have a responsibility to be good examples to those around us.
Hebrews:12:1-2 says we must focus on Jesus: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
And 1 Corinthians:7:35 says, “And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.” The interesting thing about distractions is that when they happen, we are totally unaware. We have no idea that anything at all is happening to us, and we simply react.
The opposite of distraction is focus. We must focus to keep ourselves from becoming distracted. But what does the Bible have to say about being focused?
While it is inevitable that we will become distracted in life, it is most important that we remember to stay focused on God and His ways.
Psalm:86:11: “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.”
Romans:12:17: “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.”
Colossians:3:1-2: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Also in 1 Timothy:4:16 we are told to “focus on your life and your teaching” (God’s Word).
While it is inevitable that we will become distracted in life, it is most important that we remember to stay focused on God and His ways. We learn to do this by studying His Word and praying for His guidance. We then put it into action by following His Word and, whenever possible, steering clear of the areas and ways that lead us to distraction. It’s not always easy, but we can have God’s help.