I must admit, when I first saw the title of this week’s lesson I was less than excited. I’m to be a guest teacher at a church this weekend and envisioning myself, a man, warning against the evils of loose women, was not a happy thought. Plus, the dangers of and avoidance of alcohol is something that most of us already embrace. But then as I looked more closely at the texts for this week I became amazed at how impactful this lesson really is.
My Aha! moment came as I noticed the reason why this unnamed mother of king Lemuel warned her son against the consumption of alcohol. If we look closely and listen carefully we can discover the bigger picture and principle being shared.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Nor for princes intoxicating drink;
Lest they drink and forget the law,
And pervert the justice of all the afflicted. Proverbs 31:4-5
Did you catch it? This mother’s wisdom to her son was that he must remain focused and not allow outside influences to divert him from his mission in life. The key word is focused – having clarity about the purpose of your life and a commitment to fulfill it. That means a lot.
Serving as a poster child of how not to have focus in life is none other than the herculean Samson. From before his birth God spoke to his mother about her future son’s mission in life.
“For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” Judges 13:5
We all know how that story ended. And although some may argue that he ultimately fulfilled his calling, the same cannot be said about his untapped potential in addition to his prophesied role in life. What he could have become we’ll never know. The exploits he could have performed through a long life of faithfulness are only limited by our imaginations. His carelessness in life cost him everything.
Almost as a confirmation that exploring the meaning of being focused is intended, the author of Proverbs 31 begins to talk about a virtuous woman. Starting from verse ten and onward we hear how this focused woman lives her life. Her industry and hard work for her household is exemplary. Her husband is made stronger by the actions of his wife.
“The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:11-12
Likewise, her compassion and care for others is highlighted showing that her concerns are not alone for her own home. Consistent with godliness her heart is drawn out to others.
“She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.” Proverbs 31:20
She is focused and the efforts of her life testify to her understanding of her purpose and her commitment to the same.
This is where we begin to look into the mirror. Our calling as Christians is quite clear. Sadly, for too many of us, our focus lacks the same clarity. The diversions of the enemy strike at our weak points and lull us into complacency. We mean well but often don’t live well.
For our generation, our focus is especially threatened by the very technology that defines our age. The transmission of data and information (much of it harmful) bombards us. The vices projected from our televisions and radios have now found added avenues via our smart phones and tablets. The enemy is determined that our focus must be on everything but our calling.
But God has not left us without guidance. If we listen closely enough we can hear the writers of holy writ speaking to us today.
“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes”. ” Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Psalms 101:3, Philippians 4:8
What kind of people would we be as a body if those words were included in the motto of our lives? How much more could we do and how much more could we grow if in just this one area of life we were victorious?
We often fail in grasping our potential as children of God. We limit ourselves to what we see in the mirror and often we assume we can do but little for God. I’m thankful that it is not left up to us what our futures will be. I suspect that God’s plans for us are higher than any human thought and only eternity will reveal what we could have done with a different mindset and focus in life.
But it’s not too late for any of us. As long as we have breathe in our bodies we can make right what was wrong. Let’s get focused and show our commitment by our actions. To do so will take our efforts combined with the power of God. On our knees we can ask God to free us from the chains that bind us. And He has promised that whatever we ask in faith, He will do it.
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does being “committed to God” mean to you?
- What, if any, is the difference between being a fanatic and being completely dedicated to God?
- Is it true that as long as I am a good person and faithful in my church attendance and duties, how I amuse myself in private is of no great concern? Why yes or no?
- Is it true that as long as I understand that the evils I consume through media and or music are fictional it is not really harmful to my Christian walk? Explain your answer.
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: If I am focused and committed to following Jesus, what I choose to watch or listen to will be in stark contrast to those who do not follow Him?. Explain your answer.
We close this week with the familiar words of Paul. The example he uses to make his point is so clear and compelling. Let’s get focused:
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!