Christian Living, Life Experiences, Thoughts

A Change of Focus

As COVID-19 ravages the globe, we’re all stuck at home in quarantine… and I’m wondering how long my patience will last. During the next few weeks, siblings will get on our nerves, we’ll get irritated at the lack of activity, and it will be difficult to not have angry outbursts. We also might stay disappointed about all the athletic improvement that has come to an abrupt stop. If we keep the focus on ourselves during all of this, our relationships and sanity will suffer. Putting the focus back on God could change your entire time in quarantine (and keep you sane!). If we focus on what God wants us to do (instead of what we’re missing), this pandemic could be more of an opportunity than a lost chance.

The World’s Focus

It’s obvious that people are obsessed with themselves. Self-centered slogans and “inspirational”, “feel good” quotes are shoved down our throats. And what’s not to like about it all? The world tells us to follow our hearts, love ourselves, and do whatever it takes to make ourselves the best. They blur the destructiveness of their views with catchy phrases and supposedly good intentions.

When we strive after honoring and pleasing ourselves, we’ll never be content. Worldly pleasures will never fully satisfy us, and we’ll never feel truly “enough”. Trust me, I’ve tried to put my identity in what I can do an it has never satisfied me. We’ll always be looking for more pleasure, but we will never find true joy or peace. That can only come from a relationship with God.

A Christian’s Focus

As Christians, we are called leave behind the idol of self, and we are given a greater purpose: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

When Christ steps into the picture, our lives become blessed with meaning and peace. Christ fills the gaping hole in our lives, and when we realize that “He first loved us” and “gave Himself for us”, we only want to know Him more.

God is greater than we realize, but He is interested in being Father even to the simplest. Living for Christ doesn’t prioritize being successful, beautiful, famous, or perfect. Living for Christ means knowing Him.

Whether God has “big” or “small” jobs for us, what we do for God is not the focus. The focus is on Him. Being a follower of Christ means having a relationship with our Creator and Savior. When we spend time in His presence we can’t help but become like Him!

Are We Different?

A Christian’s focus is nothing like the world’s focus. While Christians esteem and worship God, those in the world work hard to make themselves greater, prettier, and more successful. They want to “make a difference” for themselves and for their own glory. Yes, they might not want a person to go hungry, but their lives are ultimately centered on themselves.

Are we like that?

Christians (myself included) often fall into the trap of believing that we are what matters most. Pride seeps into our lives, and sin come with it. We might serve God with part of our lives, but our energy is ultimately used for ourselves. We strive after wealth, power, fame, and beauty but are only left with prideful, discontent hearts and empty lives. We worship ourselves and create one of the most damaging idols of all: the idol of self. We lust, covet, steal, boast, hate… all for ourselves.

The apostle Paul calls it “selfish ambition”.

Philippians 2:3 

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

You can see in this passage and many others that God calls us to glorify and serve Him FIRST, and then to love other people… all before ourselves.

How Can We Do It?

Can I be the first to say that humility is hard? We humans have a feeling deeply rooted in us that says, “I am what matters most.”

I’ve spent countless hours in front of the mirror, at the gym, and at my desk. Some were spent for the glory of God, and some were spent in “selfish ambition” . I’ve tried to be the very best and have wanted to be “perfect in every way. “

And the times when I don’t feel this way? When I put others before myself and love them without selfish ambition? That’s ONLY from God. I know I could never serve from a pure heart on my own. That’s a difficult thing to admit, but it’s ironically freeing. When we know and admit that we can’t do anything good on our own, we can be released from the constant pressure to be the best. We only have to trust and obey God. While we can be successful and beautiful, those pursuits will never be our focus.

What does a God-focused life look like practically? Think back to Matthew 25.

Matthew 25:40

“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

When God is the focus of our lives, we will show it by loving others and obeying Him. Maybe it means washing the dishes even though you don’t want to or skipping your screen time to play with your siblings. Maybe it means sharing the gospel even though you’ll be mocked. Maybe you have to be careful about COVID-19 so that you don’t bring it home to someone at higher risk. Full obedience to God will require a lot of self denial. We can only consistently obey God if He matters more to us than ourselves.

God doesn’t require us to do it all or be the best. He reaches out and puts desires and actions into us that we never thought possible. God will help us to obey and follow Him. He will take away our selfish ambition when we ask in faith.

God loves you, friend. Don’t try to do this life for yourself or by yourself. Ask Him today to be the focus and love of your life.

17 thoughts on “A Change of Focus”

  1. I needed to hear this. Such encouraging words! 🙂
    BTW, do you have any tips for me on how to get in the Word more? Sometimes just making sure I read a chapter every day can be difficult!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad that God used this at the right time:). I definitely have some tips for getting in the Word. I’ll try to write an article about that next Saturday if I can! Would that work? 🤗

      Like

      1. Hi Rachel, I appreciate your thoughts about focusing outwardly as we seek to glorify our God, our Good Shepherd amid the Corona virus storm. I think the challenge for John and me this week is how to balance prudence (social distancing) with reaching out and caring for others- “the least of these”. We’ve concluded that our point of focus must be faithfulness- being faithful to what God has called us to do, in our arena. And many in our arena are indeed “the least of these” with many needs both physically and spiritually. As well, we fall into that category of “vulnerable to catching the virus” because we are old!! We have cared for others in person (while being prudent) last week, but it looks asthough we will change our ministry norm in the days to come because both our sons who work in hospitals have appealed to us to stay home! Both our sons have put themselves in harms way (like your dad!) of the virus and tell us that they are caring every day for sick patients our same age! Our hearts are to “breathe the same air” as the people around us, but we’ve chosen to submit to our sons’ earnest counsel and find new, creative ways to serve God and others! Blessings, Darcie Newton

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is such wise advice, Mrs. Newton. I too have been wondering how to care for the “least of these” and be considerate of those at risk in my family. I’ve been thinking through some ways to use this time to serve others. Maybe it will look like babysitting my siblings or doing dishes, or maybe it will look like writing letters to the elderly around me. Whatever the case, I’m excited to see how Christians can use this time to spread the gospel! I’m glad to hear that you and Mr. Newton are healthy and trusting God through it all:). It’s so good to hear from you.🤗

        Like

  2. Thanks for this reminder, Rachel! It is super freeing to know that we can do nothing apart from Christ, and it is something I need to be reminded of again and again, especially now 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s