I had a very interesting conversation with a friend recently on the idea that “thinking positively changes our overall mood; that what we focus on the most, we often find.”
Where our focus is drives our thinking, our every thought starts to see that in every place we look. In many ways, the “Me Too” movement has done this on a massive, national scale. Our focus has shifted to look for, root out, and identify sexual assault wherever it may possibly be. This has driven much of our national dialogue over the last year, aptly proving my friend’s point.
Let me ask you this… where is your focus? What is it that you are allowing to shape your own personal focus? Do you allow your focus to be determined by a professional communicator? Someone intent on selling a product, such as the evening newscaster? How about the latest trend on social media?
Source of my Focus
Reflecting on my conversation with my friend, I realized the incredible truth contained in the idea. The apostle Paul frequently discussed what our focus should be on. In his letters, he tells us “think on this” and in the same context rebuked us to “don’t do that“. His epistles invariably discuss doctrine (what to believe and why), followed by exhortations (how we should apply it).
The Bible tells us a lot about where our focus tends to be. The apostle Paul writes that we can easily be “…tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming…” in Ephesians 4, and in 1 Corinthians 2 that naturally, we “…[do] not accempt the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to [us], that [we] cannot understand them…” What an indictment!
And yet, if we allow the source of our focus to be set by the current social media trend, or the evening news, our focus would clearly be scattered, rishing headlong from one thing to another – never mind any inconsistent thinking, never mind that what was not just good but demanded of us last week is verboten – completely forbidden this week.
My, what a fickle, foolish way to live our lives! Letting our focus come willy-nilly by the “next big thing” seems to be rather… random, at best. More to the point, it allows anyone at all have the ability to sway us to do their bidding.
Chose my Focus
My friend and I both recognized that we can chose our focus. I don’t have to allow my focus to be determined by someone else – I get to chose it. We can learn a lot about focus – even in adversity – from the writings of the apostle Paul. Spending years in Roman prisons (not the nice, clean, organized prisons we think of today!), Paul wrote often to other believers, not to expound on the latest news on his situation, which is what we naturally do, but rather, consider…
To the believers in Philippi, Paul wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worth of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4).
In Ephesians 4 he writes, “…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects…. walk no longer just as the nations walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding…lay aside the old self…be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
In Colossians 3 he writes, “…put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience… beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”
The truth is, Paul had a lot to legitimately complain about. But his focus, his emphasis, was continually on Christ. He made the choice regarding his focus, and didn’t allow the whims of his culture to chose it for him.
Focus on Christ
The fact is, like Paul, we should never get over the simple fact that Jesus Christ saved us. In Romans 10, Paul tells us if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. This confession, this proclaiming agreement with the reality that Christ is Lord, this believing that God raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead, should completely and utterly change the focus of the rest of your life. The “Lord” is the ones who owns, to proclaim Jesus as Lord is to recognize and accept that it is the Lord – Jesus of Nazareth – who owns me. He, not any other, not any political party, not any other thing, should be the focus of my life.
Paul wrote in Romans 15, “…in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting… I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished…” Not only is Christ the only reason to boast, but even the reason – the focus – of our normal, everyday speech.
So I ask you… what is your focus? Better yet, if someone else were to characterize your life, what would they say your focus is?