We all understand that the things of this world can distract us from our devotion to God. But seemingly good things, like our religious activities and our service to Him, can make us busy and distracted, too. Could there be something in your life that’s distracting you from whole-hearted devotion to God? If so, what can you do about it?
Joshua 11 & 12
When You’re Too Busy & Distracted
Samaritans, Servants & Busyness
This passage contains two very familiar stories: Jesus’ teaching on the Good Samaritan and the story of Mary and Martha.
25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”
29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Notice that little phrase “wanting to justify himself.” He knew what the law said, but his desire was to be justified, to look good, maybe to be sure his ticket to heaven was valid. He was focused on himself, not God and others.
30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.
These men were religious. But in another passage, Jesus said they enjoyed praying on the street corners and doing good deeds to look good to others (Matt. 6.1-5). They thought their knowledge of the law and their heritage guaranteed them a place in heaven (Jn. 8.39). They were focused on their importance and religiosity. But what Jesus saw was their lack of love and obedience.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
This religious lawyer knew what the law said, but he failed to grasp the meaning of it. If we love God, we’ll have more than a desire to know the law. We should have a desire to obey it. Obeying it means loving those God places in our paths, whether we consider them friends or enemies. It means going out of our way to help others just as the Samaritan did.
In verses 38-42 we meet Martha and her sister Mary.
38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Martha was blessed with the gift of serving. She probably did it well and was, most likely, a blessing to many.
Jesus didn’t say serving was wrong. In fact, serving is one of the Holy Spirit inspired gifts to the body of Christ. The problem wasn’t that Martha wanted to serve; the problem
was that she was “distracted” by it. She was focused on her busyness.
Perhaps, the priest and the Levite thought they were too busy doing “priestly, religious things” to be bothered with a Samaritan. Perhaps, they had no heart for the lost and hurting. Perhaps, they had no grace for those they saw as less worthy.
We should not allow anything, not even our service to God, to distract us from the most important thing—spending time sitting at the feet of our Savior. When we do, humble service to God will usually follow.
Where is your focus? If you’ve neglected time with Him, why not make a plan to re-focus. Set aside some time each day to read and study your Bible. If you keep a planner, write it down. View it as an appointment and keep it each day. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day, but keep going. It takes time to form or reform a habit.
Have you gotten too busy? Pray and ask God to help you re-order your priorities.
And, above all, enjoy your relationship with Him! Enjoy sitting at His feet. Enjoy your time in His Word. Find a way that fits you. Do you enjoy the rabbit trails of looking up a reference and going down that road? Do it! Do you enjoy listening to His Word? Do it! Do you like a detailed study? Do it!
The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks this question. What is the chief end of man? The answer, to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
The first part seems obvious, “to glorify God.” But have you ever contemplated the second part, “to enjoy him forever.” Why not get started?
TODAY’S OTHER READINGS:
Joshua 11 & 12:
Occupying the Land
Verse 23 is a key verse in chapter 11:
“So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had said to Moses; and Joshua gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Then the land rested from war.”
God had given Joshua and the people victory. However, we will see in tomorrow’s reading that there were still pockets where the Israelites did not completely destroy the pagan nations and those people would cause problems for them over and over in the future.
Notice God did not give them all the land at once. They had to take it city by city, area by area, and “occupy” it. Otherwise, it would have been left desolate and other groups, possibly even wild animals, would have come in and taken over. God had given them the victory, but they had to do their part to step out in faith and obedience.
What area of your life have you failed to occupy when God has already commanded victory?
When the Victory Hasn’t Come
Here in this psalm the nation had suffered defeat, but didn’t understand why. Sometimes when we are doing our part to walk in faith and obedience, we will go through trials that we don’t understand. That is not the time to give up, but the time to grow in our trust in God and to choose to believe that Romans 8.28-29 is true no matter how it looks to us.
God may be pruning us and purifying us, not to destroy us, but so we can bear more fruit (Jn. 15.2). Those are the times when we grow the most in our relationship with Him and in spiritual maturity if we’ll continue to trust in and keep our eye on Him.
Building Your House or Tearing It Down
Verse 1, “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.”
In what ways are you being wise and building your “house”? Your marriage? Your family? In what ways are you growing in wisdom? (Read more about building your marriage in my series on the subject. This week’s post is on “Healthy Communication.”)
In what ways are you tearing your house down with your thoughts? Your words? Your actions? Your lack of spiritual growth and maturity?
What will you do to reverse that? Is there a passage of Scripture you need to learn and meditate on? Is there a book you should read or a Bible study you might attend?
For many of us “building our house” means building our relationships with our spouses and becoming better parents. Yesterday I listed some good parenting material. If you need help in that area take a look at the resources listed in that post.
What about you?
What are those areas of your life that you have failed to occupy? What do you need to do to change that?
Have you been tempted to give up on God because of a trial or hardship? Meditate on Romans 8.28-29, 1 Corinthians 10.13, and Hebrews 4.15-16.
Go back and read Proverbs 14.1. Review the questions about the wise and the foolish woman. By the way, this is just as applicable for you gentlemen.
How are you doing when it comes to loving your neighbor—those closest to you like your spouse, your parents, your children, and your co-workers, as well as, the strangers God places in your path?
What are your spiritual gifts? Are you using them to serve the body of Christ? And conversely, do you allow your service to God to take the place of your worship and communion with God?
Write out a prayer asking for His help.
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