“EW!” “Yuck!” While my son eats the rest of his meal in silence, his scowl tells me he will not enjoy any of it just because he tried the beets. The taste affects his entire body and mind. It keeps him from enjoying the rest of the meal and the company around the table. Grumpiness ensues. Unfortunately, all of our senses affect our ability to remain focused. Here are examples:
- Skin * Feeling the aches and pains from slipping on wet floor and scraping skin can make us uncomfortable making our minds focus on the hurt of the scrape and nothing else.
- Nose * The smell of a skunk can keep you from wanting to stay in the same area until you are free from the smell.
- Ears * Hearing out-of-tune music can make you dwell on the notes instead of the message and words in the song.
- Eyes * Seeing a person you have not forgiven for something from so long ago can keep you from accepting what they say.
The purpose in my life is to bring the Good News to others, but all people have these distractions. If I bring the Good News to someone who is upset because I made him taste the beets, I’m going to be met with resistance. I have to find the avenue in which we have common ground so that he accepts what I have to say. Kindness, considering his feelings, and knowing what his senses prefer is more important than my knowledge. I can spoon feed all day and the recipient will never like what I give him. But if I find a way to bring kindness to the recipient, maybe he will let me in his world.
But I have distractions too. What do I do with mine? Dwelling on distractions and obstacles are not listed as job descriptions for our purpose. Understand this with me as we turn to scripture. In 1 Corinthians 9:11-23, Paul meets resistance from the people who were distracted from having to pay the apostles and providing for them. The portion of the text in italics and underlined is critical to understanding what we need to do.
1 Corinthians 9:11-23 “Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink? If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ.
Don’t you realize that those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple? And those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings. In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it. Yet I have never used any of these rights. And I am not writing this to suggest that I want to start now. In fact, I would rather die than lose my right to boast about preaching without charge. Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!
If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment. But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust. What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News.
Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.
When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.”
Paul focuses on one thing only. SAVE SOULS. He chose not to be paid or save his life, but to be a sacrifice for others who need to hear the TRUTH. Paul uses their senses to get through to them. He did not look at his own distractions. Paul removes his selfishness to get through to others. We can do the same. Remove our distractions by focusing on the obstacles of others.
We are saved. Now it’s time to grin and bear our own distractions. Get over dwelling on something because it’s time to save others.