By A. Trevor Sutton
According to a study conducted by Microsoft, the average attention span of an adult is eight seconds. Several years prior, before smartphones and social media, the average attention span was around twelve seconds. As a point of comparison, goldfish are believed to have an attention span of nine seconds.
In other words, our attention span today is shorter than that of a . . . wait, what were we talking about?!?
Focusing on what is truly important is harder today than ever before. Technology and gadgets, social media and on-demand shows, bursting calendars, and endless distractions all contribute to our lack of focus. With so much competition for our attention, all too often our attention ends up being everywhere and nowhere. In this modern world of distractions, God’s people need to focus now on what matters most: seeing Jesus clearly.
In the Book of Proverbs, we hear some very timely wisdom for people living in a world of distractions: “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you” (4:25). Keeping your eyes focused in the right direction and on the right things is key to maintaining proper focus. This is easier said than done. The glowing screen of a smartphone or the seemingly endless happiness of your neighbors will try to catch your eye. The allure of temptations or sinful desires from deep within will clamor for your attention. There is a never-ending list of things in this world that are working to pull your eyes away from Jesus.
What is tempting you to take your eyes off Jesus? How are you struggling to focus on God’s wonderful gifts? What distractions are muddling your mind, fighting for your focus, or sapping your soul? Perhaps work has become the focal point of your hopes and dreams. Maybe not having employment is your primary focus in life. It could be that a certain guilt or shame from the past is pulling your attention in the wrong direction. Or perhaps a certain sin or addiction in the present has caught hold of your eyes. While our temptations and distractions differ, the heart of the matter remains the same for all of us: “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Keep your eyes on Jesus. Fix your gaze steadfastly on your Savior. Focus your heart and soul, mind and life so that you are always “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus shed his blood for you. Jesus left the tomb empty for you. Jesus promises to take all that is broken in your life and make it new.
When we fix our focus on Jesus, everything else becomes clearer. Looking to Jesus brings everything else in life—family and friends, work and recreation, hopes and fears, past and present—into proper focus. Seeing Jesus clearly enables us to put our priorities in the proper order. Seeing Jesus clearly frees us from putting too much trust in earthly success, wealth, and health. Seeing Jesus clearly allows us to focus on others rather than focusing only on ourselves. Seeing Jesus clearly fills our lives with the best things that heaven has to offer: peace, power, joy, and love.
However, we do not focus on Jesus alone. We focus on seeing him clearly together, as followers of Christ. In the Gospel of John we hear Jesus say, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Together, as the sheep of the Good Shepherd, we listen for the voice of Jesus. Together, as those who have witnessed his unending love, we look to Jesus. With our eyes and ears, hearts and minds fixed on Jesus, we can be certain that our focus is right on target.
God gives his people the gift of focus through Scripture, prayer, worship, and one another. The Holy Spirit cuts through the clutter of life, renews our focus and attention, and defends us from deadly distractions. Together, let’s focus on Jesus. Together, let’s see Jesus clearly!
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2016
Editor’s note: Today’s devotion is adapted from the Ministry Message written to be used with CTA’s Focus small-group devotion book and digital resources. These resources work in person and can be used online just as easily. The content provides five weeks of devotions and discussion questions, as well as a sermon or leader’s talk that can be used to start each week.
You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2020 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.