Below is an article from our November 2017 issue of Truth Magazine entitled Maintaining Spiritual Focus by Gary Watt. This article and more can be found in our archives at https://www.truthmagazine.com/
"Everywhere I look today, I see people in a hurry and often commenting on not having enough time to get everything done. They seem tense, frazzled, and edgy. Feeling pressed for time, few seem to take a moment for a cheerful hello and a relaxed chat. They apologize behind the excuse of hurrying off to their next appointment. Those with younger children complain about being little more than a taxi service for their offspring’s many activities. Drive-through lines at restaurants seem too full at evening mealtime with working parents grabbing some quick food between the end of their workday and getting their children to the next activity. Whatever happened to the traditional evening meal with the family all around the same table, not a smartphone in sight, and talking about the happenings of their day? Which of these two meal scenarios is truly investing in the long-term future of the children and the family unit?
The more important questions are “Who’s in charge here?” and “Are you controlling your schedule or letting your schedule control you?” Twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week, and 365 days per year are unchangeable metrics. Like it or not, we must be in control of our lives within these time limits. No wonder then that time management gurus seem to flourish from generation to generation.
Overlaying the preceding scenario specifically upon Christians leads to the very real challenge of maintaining spiritual focus. As we know, becoming a Christian is not a one-time event with no further actions required. One cannot live his commitment to obey God’s word and just be a Christian when it is convenient or when it “fits his schedule.” As with anything in a Christian’s life, guidance always comes from God’s word found in the Bible.
From a personal perspective, the Scripture that first comes to my mind when trying to maintain spiritual focus is Matthew 6:33, which says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (NKJV).
This short verse is easily committed to memory. When confronted with choices for my available time and the priority of those choices, its ready recall keeps me focused.
Although in my experience it is easier said than done, the word “first” in this verse removes all other possibilities. It unequivocally establishes priority for our actions as Christians. And in our current world of often too many choices for the time available, prioritizing becomes a necessity. By accepting “first the kingdom of God,” we submit that anything else follows afterward in priority. For me, that is a tremendous help in maintaining spiritual focus. God, family, job or school, and everything else should be the Christian’s order of priority.
Maintaining spiritual focus is a dynamic process requiring diligence and self-discipline for the Christian. The word “balance” comes to mind. One dictionary definition of “balance” is “physical equilibrium or stability.” I think of the balance-beam gymnast November 2017 | TruthMagazine.com November 2017 | TruthMagazine.com 15 or the circus high wire performer constantly adjusting to maintain their balance and prevent a fall. For success, they remain intently focused on that single task without becoming distracted by activities around them. No matter how tempting those distractions, they understand that losing focus very likely leads to failure.
Similarly, we need to avoid the distractions of the world and their temporary nature and instead focus on attaining a home with God for all eternity. Forever is a very, very long time.
While becoming a Christian is an individual action that no one else can do for us, it does not mean that Christian parents are relieved of their responsibility to raise their children in obedience to our Lord. This is another critical need for maintaining spiritual focus. Consider the instruction to fathers found in Ephesians 6:4, which says, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (NKJV).
For those homes without a Christian father, a godly mother is reminded of her role in maintaining spiritual focus in her family by the example of Timothy found in 2 Timothy 1:5, where Paul said, “…I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (NKJV).
Children lack the knowledge, experience, and wisdom to rightly discern the eternal value of spiritual focus. They are easily attracted to activities that appear fun and give immediate gratification. They are often fearful of peer pressure and have a “need to belong.” The wisdom of God’s word rightly closes the gap by placing the responsibility for maintaining the children’s spiritual focus on their parents. It is not an easy task and the children may well object, but a Christian father must be the spiritual leader of his family or, in his absence, a Christian mother must take his place. The children’s souls are at stake.
Actions to maintain spiritual focus could be the subject of another article but leading by example tops my list. We often underestimate the influence of our example on others. Regular church attendance, coupled with regular Bible reading and prayer in a Christian’s life are powerful examples for their families and others.
The preceding has been relatively easy for me to say, but I assure you that it has not been easy for me to do. Those who know me best know that the personal challenge of balancing my duties as a Christian against the pressures of my job and other activities has not been easy. But with Matthew 6:33, and the rest of God’s word as my guide, I have tried earnestly to maintain spiritual focus. The task never ends, but the reward is priceless."