You Find What You Seek; Your Focus is Your Destination
Keep your eyes on the road. Keep your eye on the ball. Look before you leap.
How many statements do we have out there that reveal the same simple truth? More importantly, why do we need to keep remind ourselves? Even as I type this, more and more come to mind.
While some people take those statements and apply them to businesses or weight loss or scholastic goals, people still sometimes seem determined to focus on the distractions.
If you indeed obtain what you focus on, why focus on fear? If you find what you seek, then one who fears the loss of his possessions or status will inevitably find those things. I’ve always been a driven individual. I have a very limited list of things I focus on. In truth, we should only focus on one thing:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).”
If one studies that segment (and a few others) more deeply, they all say the same thing. Keep your focus on God.
A God-focused individual may not appear very different in some respects. For instance, God commands us to be submissive and obedient. This means a God-focused individual will be diligent at work and hard working. He’ll be quick to do as he’s instructed. But there will be some differences. A God-focused man won’t participate in the water-cooler talk. A God-focused man won’t be quick to lose his temper or insist on his own way.
I won’t claim to be God-focused. That’s part of the reason I’m writing this. I currently state I have to work to be God-focused. I aspire to be God-focused. I think about God a lot, but I’d be lying if I said he was the focus of my every thought, and that is the problem.
If I were to console myself, I’d say that when I truly realize I’m not focused on Him, I reorient myself. I just wish I didn’t have to stop course correcting so frequently in the day.
But what does it truly mean to be God-focused? Does a God-focused person just read the Bible all day and pray? Prayer isn’t the formal activity people make it out to be. Sure, I think every person should spend some time of each day kneeling in prayer, but that’s not the only way to do it. Prayer isn’t a posture or position of body; prayer is a mindset, and that mindset is what it means to be God focused.
First, a God-focused individual must passionately study God. A writer such as myself passionately reads and writes. A musician passionately studies his or her instrument. The key to being God-focused above all else is to passionately study God. The way we do this is reading the Bible.
For those who proclaim to be of the faith, consider this: How often do you read the Bible? If you’re a mechanic, you open a manual for a car pretty often. Journalists have to open the AP Style Book each time they proofread their work. A construction man will have to study the schematics for a building. So again, how often do you study the Bible?
If you’re expecting me to give you a “required” amount of study, I’m going to disappoint you. Salvation isn’t a checklist of deeds, it’s a gift of grace from God. What I will say is that if you only read the Bible when someone makes you, I can’t say I’d call you God-focused. A man who hates his job can still go to work. He’s not focused on his work; he’s focused on his status, appearance, or financial well being.
The heart speaks truth.
This is why studying God’s word is the first step. You can’t do what God wants if you don’t know what He wants. You can’t be focused on God if you don’t even know what things God wants you to fix your thoughts on. There’s a verse in the Bible where he literally tells you what to fix your thoughts on (Philippians 4:8). That list isn’t exclusive, but it is instructive.
Just sitting here thinking about things, I know I’m supposed to be loving (Mark 12:31 among others). I’m supposed to be wise (Proverbs). I know I’m supposed to be slow to anger (Numbers 14:18).
Ultimately, I’m supposed to be perfect (Matthew 5:48). The problem is that my sinful flesh makes that impossible. So how do I strive to do that? I focus and study God’s word, using it to guide my actions.
So the second thing a God-focused person must do is apply what he or she learns from the Bible. As one studies the Bible, one must apply the principles and obey the commands the Bible gives. The more one works at doing this, the more one finds ones self living a God-focused life.
I think that’s the battle. Sometimes it feels like every moment of every day is a battle between what I know the Bible tells me I should do and what I do. Like Paul, I too often find myself doing what I don’t want to do. I want to be a more patient man. I want to be a man who’s slow to speak, but my mouth flies open far too much, and I still don’t have a lick of patience.
Working to improve is an example of being God-focused. Catching yourself doing something against the teachings of the Bible and adjusting your behavior is a great way to glorify God. I’m quite happy when I do this. I’d just prefer not to have to fix my thinking.
This is discipline. We discipline our actions and behavior according to God’s instruction, and the more we discipline ourselves, the more our thoughts will stay fixed on God.
The third thing a God-focused person must do is have a constant mindset of prayer. Again, we’re not telling you to kneel and pray every second of every day. I pray when one of my sons is acting up, and I know I should respond with patience and a calm demeanor rather than raise my voice. I don’t do it physically; I just think, “God, help me to lead my son to you.”
When there’s a disagreement at work, and I feel the old, prideful person I used to be start to get indignant, I think, “God, help me to be patient and kind. Help me to not insist on my own way.”
Those are statements from 1 Corinthians 13.
When one incorporates scripture into prayer, it’s stronger. It shows your supplications are a request to do as God wants rather than a demand for God to do what you want. God is loving and generous. He gives such wonderful things to his children (Matthew 7:11). However, He’s not the servant; we are.
We use prayer to lament to God. We use prayer to praise God. We use prayer to offer supplications to God. We use prayer to seek God’s wisdom and will.
We are supposed to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This speaks to a mindset far more than it does a posture. However, one should be constantly comparing ones actions from a Biblical mindset and thinking about God throughout ones life.
That might take someone as legalistic as myself right back to a mindset of, “Then I should just read the Bible and pray all the time!”
Well if prayer is just focusing on God, then a God-focused person will do this instinctively.
It doesn’t mean everyone should strictly grow up to be a pastor. That’d be a fine life occupation indeed, but God didn’t have all 12 tribes of Israel become priests. God wants doctors and lawyers. God wants teachers and farmers. God, in his wisdom, knows what His people need, and He uses people to provide. God provides leaders and artists. God used people to write His spirit-driven words.
This means we need to study our profession. This means we need to do our jobs, whatever they are. Three months ago, who gave a second thought to a grocery store employee? Now we see how critical those people are. How about food service workers? How long will it be now before you throw a fit at a guy who prepared your food? You see, God raises the meek to humble the prideful (Matthew 23:12).
A misguided person will focus too much on the works. However, if works aren’t what lead to salvation, that what you’re doing isn’t actually what matters. What matters is why. Why are you doing it? How is what you’re doing glorifying God? The doctor performing surgery because it will make him enough to buy a car I can’t spell the name of is lost. The doctor next to him performing surgery because he knows God has called him care for the ill has it right.
The teacher working on a lesson plan because that is what will help him earn a promotion is lost. The teacher next to him working because he knows God has chosen him to teach his little children has it right.
There is another benefit to this.
You see, a God-focused person isn’t anxious. What does it profit a man to fear the loss of money or food? Will worry grow crops? Will concern in itself keep an illness from infecting you?
This fear-focused person isn’t doing anything for God. In truth, such a person is showing a lack of faith. And what does acting out of fear truly do?
A germophobe might never get sick, but he never gets to experience some of the wonderful things God has given him.
Again, this doesn’t mean, “Do what you want.” That’s not God-focused. It simply means, do what God wants, trusting He will provide and care for you. He will.
Don’t be afraid for your life. I promise, you’ll die one day. But the saved will live again.
Don’t be afraid of poverty. You were born with nothing, and you can’t take any of your money or possessions with you after you die.
Instead, hold fast to God. He is enduring and everlasting. He will give you what you need.
This is a perfect time to fix your thoughts on God. This is a perfect time to look at your life and ask yourself if you’re really serving Him. This is a perfect time to glorify Him by being generous when others seek to horde for their own comfort. This is a perfect time to glorify Him by being grateful for what you have, even if it’s not that much.
Whatever you do, do it to honor Him.
For our panel: Even as teachers and preachers of the word, would you claim that God occupies your every thought and action? How do you reorient yourself if/when you realize you’re not focused on God in a certain moment? Is going to church “enough” Bible study? Is there more one should do to be God-focused? What verses are good to go to, to help one focus on God?