The next key to RISE ABOVE the Daily Grind is Be Focused. How does our focus work as a lever to build our faith? A quote from Army Sgt. Major Dan Dailey discussing his time serving in South Korea highlights the importance of staying focused: “Here, you’re laser focused because you know what’s happening just north of you. Soldiers who have missions that are focused work harder.” Life is chaotic and there are so many things demanding our attention. You can find countless articles on ways to focus, what focused people do, and strategies on how to prioritize. Let’s look at some key scriptures from the third chapter of Philippians that highlight five important requirements to living a focused Christian life.
1: Remember the Source
- Key verse: Philippians 3:1 “Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.”
- Paul reminds us 16 times throughout Philippians to center our joy in the Lord. Here he’s talking about the indestructability of Christian joy and the necessity of repetition.
- In chapters 1 and 2, Paul has been coaching the Philippian believers to focus their lives on living for Christ. He is encouraging them to rise above the daily grind by focusing on Christ and His plan for their lives vs. their plan for their lives.
- Someone (not sure who) said this and it spoke so much to me about living a focused life: “If you know what you’d give your life for, you can know what to give your time to.” Focus is a matter of priority.
- If you don’t pray, it’s not because you don’t have time; it’s not a priority.
- If you don’t attend church, it (often) is not because you don’t have time; it’s not a priority.
- If you don’t tithe and honor God with your giving, it’s not because you don’t have time; it’s not a priority.
- If you don’t honor your wife, live a humble life, serve your family, it’s not because you can’t; it’s because it’s not a priority.
- You decide if Jesus is most important to you. What are the implications of that? How does that change the way we live if we focus on Jesus and make Him first in our life?
- Living a focused life trains me to keep my eyes, mind, and heart on what is most important… Jesus Christ. It prioritizes Christ and His will for my life!
2: Cut Out the Counterfeit
- Key verse: Philippians 3:2 “Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.”
- These are some pretty strong words by Paul against his enemies, the false teachers. Paul was a protector of the purity of the Christian doctrine and anyone who contradicted that purity was going to be called out. That’s what Paul was doing here. He called them dogs, and the kind of “dog” referred to is considered to be the lowest form of life in the Bible.
- We need to become a student of the Word because we live in a day where there are false religions, false teachings, and counterfeit Christianity. In order to avoid being misled, we need to measure everything by the Word of God.
- Oct. 31st is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Cast Church in Wittenberg, Germany to provoke debate and raise awareness of unbiblical teaching. He sought to cutout the counterfeit and protect the purity of the Gospel by reclaiming and refocusing the church on the 4 Sola’s:
- Sola Christus (Christ alone) – Acts 4:12
- Sola Gratia (Grace alone) – Ephesians 2:8,9
- Sola Fide (Faith alone) – Romans 10:17
- Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) – 2 Timothy 3:15-16
- Both Paul’s and Luther’s intent was to cutout the counterfeit. We need to do the same and live out the pure doctrines of Christ.
3: Eliminate Distractions
- Key verses: Philippians 3:3-6
- In Philippians 3:3-6, Paul is making the case that all of his attributes were nothing in comparison to knowing Christ. He refused to be distracted by his pedigree and adherence to the law. Christ was his focus.
- Research shows that college students are more distracted than ever. Students can’t resist the many distractions available to us and neither can most of us. In practical terms, distraction is extremely dangerous:
- 1.3 million car accidents involved cell phones – about 23% of all crashes.
- 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver.
- Text messaging while driving makes the chance of an accident 23 times more likely.
- Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds; at 55 mph that’s the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field blind.
- When the enemy can’t destroy you, he will try to distract you. And in distracting you, he aims to defeat you! So we need to stay focused.
4: Prioritize Conviction
- Key verse: Philippians 3:7-9 “…whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ…I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
- For Paul, nothing was more important than Jesus Christ. Everything else was way down the line, and many things were now off the list entirely.
- How about you? Anything of value requires focus. What do you value? Does it have your complete focus?
- Is Jesus Christ your King or is he your pal that you reach out to when you have time or are bored? How does that affect your view of Scripture, prayer, sharing your faith, serving others etc.?
- Saying your family is #1 sounds good, but is it true? How does it manifest itself in your world? What are the implications of being a one-man woman and one-woman man? What does it mean to do the hard work of parenting?
- What about money and friendships? Where does your focus lie?
- Write out the priorities that guide your life. What are your key convictions? If you know what you’ll die for, you know what you will give your time and focus to.
5: Concentrate on Becoming
- Key verse: Philippians 3:10-11 “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
- Know Christ: To know Christ is to become like Him. Christianity is not something we just do, but rather who we are. So who are we becoming? Who has our heart, mind, and devotion?
- Power of His Resurrection: We can’t know everything that this means, but it speaks to the importance of Jesus’ life and body. He is with us and will always be with us, forever. Christ’s resurrection is the guarantee this life is worth living, this physical body is sacred, and death is not the end.
- Fellowship of (participation in) His Suffering: To suffer for Christ is not a penalty, but a privilege! It is through suffering that we share in the very work of Christ (2 Cor. 1:5; 4:10-11; Gal 6:17, Col 1:24). In many “Christian” circles, the teaching is, “you always get healed, you always get rich, and life is always good.” The only problem with this is that the Bible teaches something different. Sometimes ultimate healing is going to Heaven. Sometimes we have financial challenges. Sometimes life is hard. But God is always with us, even during those times. As Corrie ten Boom puts it, “God is with us in our Auschwitz. And He will be with us always.”
So will you pray with me today, “Lord, help me become more like you.”? That’s Paul’s wish for his friends and for us. It’s the objective and aim of the Christian life. Let’s take the time today to focus in on what really matters: Jesus Christ.