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Dealing with Distractions
Guest post by Chad Ramsey.
When Jesus came to Bethany, His friend “Martha welcomed Him into her house” (Luke 10:38 NKJV). Rather than sitting with Jesus and listening to Him teach, as her sister Mary did, “Martha was distracted with much serving” (verse 40).
The text describes her bustling around making sure everything was in place and that everyone received proper attention.
Jesus’ Response to Martha’s Distractions.
Whether we sympathize with Martha’s attempt at hospitality, we must learn from Jesus’s response to her. He said: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (verses 41-42).
Is it important to make our guests feel comfortable? Of course. But some things are more important than others.
Because Jesus has “the words of eternal life” (cf. John 6:68), Martha should have worried less about the dinner party and focused upon listening to Him.
Legitimate Concerns vs. Distractions.
Like Martha, we are often “worried and troubled by many things.”
Concerns about health, families, local congregations, and our communities are joined by broader concerns about the global pandemic, political and civil unrest, and economic policies. These concerns are only amplified by our round-the-clock access to social media feeds and news outlets.
Nevertheless, it is not wrong to be aware of or concerned about matters impacting those around us.
We are to pray for and support our government (2 Timothy 2:2; Romans 13:7).
We are to rejoice and weep with our brethren (Romans 12:15).
We are to regularly encourage one another to be faithful (Hebrews 3:12-13).
We are to help our fellow man (Galatians 6:10).
We are to care for our family members (1 Timothy 5:8).
We are to avoid selfishness and consider “the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).
How to Avoid Unnecessary Distractions.
But how can we fulfill these responsibilities without focusing upon the wrong things? How can we avoid the trap of reading about or discussing problems but doing nothing to resolve them?
We can make an effort to avoid unnecessary distractions.
In the book Walden, published in 1854, Henry David Thoreau described a practice that has only grown worse since his time. He wrote:
“Hardly a man takes a half hour’s nap after dinner, but when he wakes he holds up his head and asks, ‘What’s the news?’ as if the rest of mankind had stood his sentinels” (117).
His point is even more relevant today.
Those who feed on the never-ending global news cycle will never be satisfied. There is always something more to see or hear. Distractions reside in every new story, and those who concern themselves with a thousand problems rarely solve one.
Instead, we must focus today on the things we can control, and we must learn to prioritize.
Jesus said it best of all: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:33-34).
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Roslyn, NY: Black, 1970.
Chad was - and still is - “my preacher” from when I spent my high school and early college years at Gloster Street. I’m thankful to be able to share some of his writings with you!
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