The world is full of distractions that can influence our spiritual growth and obedience if we are not careful. I was thinking about that when I watched my grandchild the other day. When it comes time for my ten-month-old grandson to eat, he must be fed where there are as few distractions as possible because, as soon as he hears something, he jerks his head to see what he’s missing. Aren’t we just like that sometimes?
3 Ways that Seemingly Little Distractions Greatly Impact Spiritual Growth
1. Worldly distractions can keep us from salvation.
In the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:1–23), we learn that one of the reasons God’s truth does not take root and grow is because the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches (which can seem so harmless!) choke out the Word that’s been sown.
There are plenty of things we can worry about or lust after today, aren’t there? To fight this battle, I must constantly remind myself that this world is not my home. But I must also be faithful to pray for those who are so distracted by the world that they have missed the only One who will truly satisfy the longings of their hearts.
Lord, thank You for saving me from the power of sin that once rendered me a slave to my flesh and the world. Use my life as a testimony of your great love and faithfulness!
2. Worldly distractions can keep us from growing and living according to the life-giving truths of the gospel.
Paul prayed that the young church in Colossae would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so they could walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. This would require them to say no to whatever distracted them from seeking Christ above all else.
We must do the same, dealing decisively with anything that pulls us away from what’s supremely important—knowing Christ. I find the battle is ongoing as I strive to keep good things in their proper place, such as smart phones, Internet, entertainment, Facebook, Twitter, exercise, work, children and grandchildren, home repairs, meal preparation, laundry, being occupied with worldly affairs, and so on.
Even things that are very good must not keep us from what is best for our souls.
Father, I confess that in my weakness, I can be tempted to fill my time and soul with the things of this world rather than the gospel. Please help me to walk by the Spirit so I will not gratify the desires of the flesh, which keep me from doing the things I truly want to do! (Gal. 5:16–18)
3. Worldly distractions hinder our spiritual growth by keeping us from enjoying the Lord’s presence.
One day, Jesus went to visit Mary and Martha who were both delighted to welcome their beloved teacher into their home. The account in Luke 10 invites us to learn an important lesson: “Her sister Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching, but Martha was distracted with much serving.” She was distracted from actually spending time with Jesus.
We can be distracted by things we’re sincerely doing to please Jesus. Good things. But Jesus doesn’t want us to be doing for Him at the expense of being with Him.
Our Lord is sympathetic to the demands of life that pull at us. Consider His few years of ministry on earth: Sick people wanted to be healed. Lame people wanted to walk. Blind people wanted to see. The Pharisees and Sadducees wanted to debate Him. His disciples wanted to elevate Him. But how many just simply wanted to be with Him?
Jesus frequently went off by Himself to a quiet place to enjoy fellowship with His Father. He beckons us to do the same because there is fullness of joy in His presence and endless pleasures at His right hand (Ps. 16:11).
Finally, God wants to teach us how to be at rest in the midst of the chaos and confusion of this world. That’s what God is drilling down more deeply in me these days. Regardless of what distractions, pressures, trials, or sufferings are coming at me at any given moment, my heart will only be truly at rest when it’s fixed on Christ. The more I put my trust in God’s goodness and sovereign control over every circumstance of my life, the less unexpected or hard things can steal the peace or joy I have been given in Christ. Spiritual growth happens when we remain focused on Him.
I cherish my times of fellowship with the Lord each morning, but I have learned how easily I can get caught up or discouraged by the circumstances of my day. That wasn’t the case with Jesus who lived in perfect communion with His Father from hour to hour. Nothing rattled our Savior. Nothing kept Him from the work He had come to do.
* Always busy, but never in a rush.
* Full of compassion, but never overwhelmed by the vast needs.
* Fully aware that many followed Him just to get something from Him, yet steadfastly committed to showing them their greater need.
* Always moving closer toward the cross where sinful men would crucify Him, yet never wavering from the mission He came to fulfill.
God calls us to a life where distractions fade and His voice becomes the One we listen to first and foremost . . .
* When we are being pushed and pulled from every direction. And when we feel like life is calm and peaceful.
* When we feel like we can make sense of nothing. And when everything seems to be falling into place.
* When our strength is gone and our faith is weak. And when we’re feeling good and our faith is strong.
This is the life God calls us to as He weans us from the world’s counterfeits of peace, joy, strength, and security. As we learn to increasingly depend on Christ for our every need and desire, we find that God’s peace and joy well up in us like a fountain and, even when everything around us is shaken, our confidence and hope in Christ remains.
Are there any worldly distractions you need to repent of and put aside in order to seek the Lord?