Focus makes a difference

Tim Challies has posted a 3 part series on envy this week, and a sentence in the last post stood out to me: this principle is true in regard to any sin:

A mistake you might make is to focus on Envy itself, waking up each day and declaring, “Today I will not envy.” Instead of focusing on not sinning, orient yourself toward obeying God’s commands and especially the commands that are completely opposed to Envy, which is to say, the commands that motivate love.

What a difference that makes in combating sin. In Erwin Lutzer’s How to Say No to a Stubborn Habit (linked to my review), he used the illustration of trying not to think of the number 8, which results in not being able to think of anything but the number 8. If I want to stop thinking of the number 8, I need to actively think about something else.

I was beating myself up for overeating a snack yesterday and wondering how to combat that. This morning I read, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:20). Instead of thinking of what I am not supposed to eat, and therefore being preoccupied with it, I need to think about how to glorify God in my body.

The Scriptures are filled with examples of pursuing the right things rather than just being preoccupied with avoiding the wrong things.

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (II Timothy 2:22).

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him…Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. (Colossians 3:8-14).

I don’t know if that helps you as much as it does me, but focus really does make a difference.

5 thoughts on “Focus makes a difference

  1. It’s funny; Jeff and I have been talking since Sunday about the need to focus more on the positive too. I’ve had both success and failure since then: I was in a conversation Sunday night that I *tried* to keep on the positive side, but I kept getting questioned about the negative and I eventually succumbed. And subsequently got in my car and cried about the mess.

    Nonetheless, I got back on the horse and am trying again. 🙂 Thankful for multiple chances to get this down.

    • I don’t think this means we can never talk about the negative — the epistles deal with problems in the church and even name names. It’s hard to balance sometimes when it’s necessary and when it’s not. As you said, I’m glad God is patient with us about it.

  2. Wonderful post! I find it helpful to sing a hymn in my head, especially when I wake up after a nightmare. It helps me to focus on God and not on some craziness from a scary dream. It’s always good to quote Scripture to ourselves as well. I’ve found the Lord brings to mind just the right ones! :o)

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