Friday, March 22
Scripture: Joshua 12-14, 1 Corinthians 7
1 Corinthians 7:35 “This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.”
Paul writes this chapter on marriage in the midst of “this present crisis” (v. 26). We don’t know what that crisis was, but it certainly colored Paul’s advice on marriage. Perhaps he thought the Lord was returning very soon. Or perhaps Christians in Corinth were facing severe opposition. Whatever the crisis, it prompted Paul to encourage (not command) people to put off marriage if they could. He wanted to spare them much trouble (v. 28) and secure “undistracted devotion to the Lord.”
The word “devotion” translates a Greek word that meant “to continually attend to or serve someone.” I like that image of attending to Jesus—being attentive, responsive and always ready to serve.
Paul sought undistracted devotion to Jesus—in this case, undistracted by the cares and concerns of marriage, but in a larger sense, undistracted by anything in this world (see v. 28-31).
How can I live in the world, be engaged with every day life, and still offer “undistracted devotion” to Jesus?
In the purest sense, you can’t. This is why Paul encouraged people to put off marriage and stay single—it was less distraction. And that line of thinking led to the creation of monasteries and the monastic life as one of “undistracted devotion.” That lifestyle is not wrong, but it’s certainly not what most of us are called to do.
I am not called to leave the world and join a hermitage. I can’t eliminate “distractions” but I can minimize or manage them while I live a full life in the world. I can create healthy rhythms in my life that remind me to “attend to” Jesus. I can say no some unhealthy distractions. For example, last year I discovered how much time I was spending (wasting) on an app on my phone. I deleted it. But honestly, I enjoy some other “distractions.” I love riding my motorcycle or playing golf. In fact, I’m taking lessons to get better.
For me, the key to living with undistracted devotion is creating the rhythms that keep me centered and attentive. This is one of them.
Prayer: Lord, I want to live fully devoted to You, attentive and responsive. Help me to create the disciplines in my life that allow me to do that in the midst of all the distractions of living fully in the world.