Surprisingly, many times our own family members can be the greatest distractions. Jesus in Matthew 10:25 says: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” A brother, a relative, or a friend can prove to be a bad influence and therefore a bad distraction. We pursue earthly distractions because we think that they will bring us happiness. But the Bible tells us that Christ has gone to prepare mansions in Heaven for those who believe in Him (John 14:1-3). The earthly success that we desire is merely a glimpse of the joy that believers will realize in Heaven. The Bible in Psalms 16:11 tells us that “in God’s presence is fullness of joy; [and] at His right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Therefore, if we do not seek to place ALL of our dreams, desires, and hopes in Christ then we have misunderstood our purpose here on earth and will surely encounter disappointment. This is why Paul in Colossians 3:2-3 says “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” The success that we desire is “hid with Christ in God.” Though we may encounter success in this life, that is not the purpose of life. Each person whom God allows to live in this world must realize that they have entered a test, a final examination. This a profound test as it involves our future well-being. There are only two outcomes for this test: a future eternal life with Christ in a world which unlike our current one is not cursed (Genesis 3:16-19, Romans 8:20-22, Revelation 22:3) or dying the “Second Death” which the Bible tells us is experiencing eternal torment in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41, 2 Thessalonians 1:9 and Revelation 20:14-15; 21:8). Hence, the outcomes of this test called life involve the greatest incentive (i.e. the good news of the gospel) and the greatest disincentive (i.e. the failure to obey the gospel). No one knows when the test will end; for some people, the test ends a lot sooner than they hoped or expected and some sadly find out that they have not done what it takes to even get a passing grade. Therefore, we all need to be concerned with passing the test with flying colors. How do we pass the test with flying colors? By realizing that all things in this life that do not involve reading, learning and loving the Word of God are distractions. Once we understand this then we can manage the distractions in our life so that we will leave this life with a rich understanding of the true knowledge of God. Do not, therefore, allow the distractions in your life to steal your destiny. Many church-goers will end up dying the Second Death because they thought it was more important to chase “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). The Bible reminds us in 1 Timothy 6:10 that in chasing these distractions, many have “erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” From the day we are born, we are told and taught to covet “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” and sadly most people will die in pursuit of these earthly treasures. Jesus urges us not to pursue these earthly treasures and warns us that “moth and rust will corrupt” them and that “thieves break through and steal” them. Christ’s advice is to instead “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (Matthew 6:20). So how do we lay up treasures in Heaven?
It has become apparent to me that all things in this life are just distractions. Yes, I mean ALL things that do not involve reading, learning and loving the Word of God. There are of course good distractions and bad distractions. A good distraction is that which will eventually lead one to the pages of God’s Word, which in reality are the only words of life (Philippians 2:6, 1 John 1:1). One example of a good distraction is a godly wife who urges her husband to go and lose himself in the pages of the Word of God (1 Corinthians 7:33). Another example of a good distraction is a daily hour of passive commute time (e.g. on a train) which allows a prudent believer to routinely engage the weighty parts of God’s word. It is a distraction because it is a commute, but it is a good distraction (if re-purposed advantageously) because it forces one into a routine of Bible study which might not otherwise be as routine. There are also necessary distractions such as eating and sleeping. Nevertheless, these necessary distractions are still distractions as they do not lead us to the Word of God, though they enable us to continue that quest. Living a spiritually healthy life is all about managing the many distractions that are in one’s life. Do not get caught up in distractions.
God—understanding that we need significant amounts of undistracted alone time with Him in order to truly know Him and excel in this test that is life— prudently designated 1/7th of our time here on this earth as distraction-free. In His study guide for how to pass the test, He called this distraction-free time, the Sabbath. He promised that those who partook of worship and rest during this period would experience the blessings specifically associated with this time segment. However, most have seen this Sabbath as an affront to their own personal time and/or have decided to re-designate another unblessed and unhallowed time-segment as their Sabbath. They have also shunned the idea that the entire time-segment needs to be distraction-free and have hence encumbered their Sabbath with all sorts of distractions which are sure to limit the time spent in the word of God.
God knows that we all yearn for some measure of earthly happiness which I will hereafter refer to as “these things.” That is why He has provided us with a non-destructive way to arrive at “these things.” A way that doesn’t involve the pursuit of distractions. In Matthew 6:33, God says “seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all ‘these things’ shall be added unto you.” In Psalms 34:10, God says: “they that seek the LORD shall not want [i.e. lack] any good thing.” In Psalms 37:4, God says “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” In Psalms 145:19 we read “God will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.” In John 15:7 Christ says “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
Therefore, anytime you (or anyone you care about) find yourself yearning for “these things” or wondering whether you will find some modicum of success in this life, just remember God’s advice: Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, delight yourself in the LORD, fear Him, abide in Him, and allow His words to abide in you.
To many, this advice may sound counter-intuitive. After all, why would someone want to read a Bible if they can’t eat, buy clothes, or do not have anywhere to sleep? Yet, we must remember that all our help comes from God. I am weak having my own burdens. I need God’s grace each day just to survive. But my King is strong and He is still coming back soon! He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). He supplies my needs in proportion to how relentlessly I pursue His Word.