“Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” – Proverbs 4:25-27 NLT
The other day I got a text from my son who is a freshman in college. In his message, he talked about how difficult college was proving to be. One of the things he said to me was very insightful. He simply said that college was full of distractions. Oh, how true. And the same thing can be said of life in general. Every day, we all face circumstances, situations, and even individuals who can easily distract us from what really matters in life. There are fires to put out, problems to handle. difficult people to deal with, deals to close, opportunities to take advantage of, and a myriad of other things, both large and small, that can get our eye off of the prize. We can easily lose focus. We can become distracted and even disoriented, losing touch with what really matters. So Solomon warns us to keep our eyes straight ahead. He tells us to not lose focus and allow ourselves to get distracted by all that life has to offer. And this guy is speaking from experience. Remember, he is the wisest and wealthiest king that the nation of Israel every knew. Listen how he describes his experience with lost focus:
I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless.So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?”After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world. I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards.I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees.I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire! So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. – Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 NLT
Wow! Talk about distractions. Pleasure, wine, palaces, vineyards, gardens, parks, reservoirs, slaves, flocks, silver, gold, singers – but it was all like chasing the wind. Fleeting, ephemeral, meaningless and, ultimately, unfulfilling. Solomon had allowed himself to look in the wrong places for what he hoped would be the right solution to his problem. Instead of keeping his eyes focused on God, he got sidetracked and, ultimately, sidelined. Solomon’s lack of focus wasn’t just a short-lived event, but a lifelong obsession that cost him dearly. Take a look at this recap of the last days of his life.
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord. In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been. – 1 Kings 11:1-4 NLT
Solomon didn’t listen to his own advice. He refused his own counsel. He didn’t look straight ahead. He didn’t keep his eyes fixed on the Lord. He strayed off the straight path and found himself wandering around in the high weeds along the road of life. And the same thing can happen to us as believers. We can lose our focus. We can become distracted. We can allow the things of this world to entice and entrap us, leaving us ineffective and a far cry from the victorious conquerors God intended us to be. Don’t lose your focus. Keep your eye on the prize. Don’t let God out of your sights. Make your pursuit of Christ your highest priority and greatest joy. Nothing else matters.
Father, this world can be a distracting place. We can be like kids in a toy store who find themselves surrounded with all kinds of tempting, tantalizing treasures that promise to bring us joy. But they can’t deliver. Only You can bring us true joy, fulfillment and worth. Help us keep our eyes on You. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men