Have you ever looked at a picture that was out of focus? Maybe it was a picture that you took years earlier. When you looked at the picture after significant time had passed, did you think - I vaguely recall this image, but it's difficult to make out what it actually portrays. Maybe your life has become similar to that old picture - out of focus and barely recognizable as to the image that it should portray.
What is your focus today? What is the focus of your work? Your family? Your life? How do you know?
It might be helpful to define our terms. What do I mean by focus? One definition given by Webster's 1828 Dictionary is a central point; point of concentration. Is there a central point in your life? A person, activity or idea around which all other facets of your life revolve?
What is your focus? While a seemingly straight-forward question, the answer might be illusive. After all, doesn't the answer change from year-to-year, day-to-day, even minute-to-minute?
If you are a Christ-follower, circumstances, activities and daily requirements may change, but your focus should not. Each day, whether you are caring for children, working for an employer, attending church or enjoying the beauty of creation, your focus should be on Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He is the central point of the universe and should be the central point of our existence.
Does your work define you? Do you find yourself constantly planning for the next project or thinking about how to win the next sale? Does your success at work determine your happiness? Do you arrange your schedule, your ability to worship and your family life around the demands of work at all costs? Work has been ordained by God and is an important part of our lives. We were made to work. However, the work itself should not be our focus. Christ should be our focus and work should take its place as a means to glorify him and provide for our families.
Do sports consume you? Entertainment, in its proper place, can be both fun and beneficial. I'm afraid many of us struggle with finding that proper place. Many men spend every waking hour watching sports, discussing last night's match-up and planning for the next big game. Many families spend countless hours at the basketball court or baseball field striving to give their children what they did not have, chasing the college scholarship and dreaming of the professional contract. In our culture, sports have become all-consuming and sports heroes have taken on the status of gods. But, God says "You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3). What does an improper balance regarding sports teach our children about the proper focus in our families?
Does a past event (good or bad) control you? We have all met the person that takes every opportunity to discuss the game-winning play they made 40 years ago. We all know someone who measures every current event against the backdrop of the tragedy that happened in the distant past. I do not intend to minimize the importance of the big game or the relevance of the tragedy, however I do intend to maximize the preeminence of God and His glory. Let me encourage you (and myself) to resist the urge to let the past determine our focus in the present. Forget those things that are behind and press toward the mark (Philippians 3:13-14).
As I make the case for a focus on the Lord in all of life, it raises the question - What does that look like? Does it mean we should sit idly by and simply ponder the attributes of God throughout the day? No. There is a time for meditation, but the Bible speaks clearly regarding the fact that there is a time for action. As God's children, we are to be people of action. There is a time for work, a time to disciple our children, a time to take dominion in this world. However, even in the midst of activity, even in the midst of chaos, we can (and should) make an effort to focus our minds, our hearts and our lives on the Lord. We can pray without ceasing even as we work. We can worship the Lord even as we perform the duties required in our families. We can hide God's word in our heart even as we enjoy the leisure time He has given.
- Be careful what influences are allowed in your life. People, books, music, movies and social media all seek to influence your focus.
- Be conscious of what thoughts you allow your mind to dwell on (Proverbs 23:7). It's been said, What consumes your mind controls your life.
- Be diligent to guard your heart and the people, media and thoughts that affect it (Proverbs 4:23).
- Make a conscious effort to make God the focal point of your life. Throughout the day and throughout the week, ask yourself, What is my focus? Our purpose, the point of concentration in our lives, should be to bring glory to God (I Corinthians 10:31).
Is your life like the out of focus picture? Are you having trouble recognizing the image? Make a commitment today to bring God into focus in your life. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
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