As I mentioned last week, I thought I came up short on my conversation about John 13.31-38, and especially Jesus’ new command to love one another as he has loved us. So I’m taking a second crack at it here. The message begins at 36:48. [Edit: message upload fixed!]
Happy new year! A new year is a time, for many, to kick old habits and start new ones. May I encourage you to begin a new habit of being attentive?
It happens to us all, now and again, right? We may be daydreaming, or looking down at our phones, or distracted by some sight, and we miss something significant. I remember one time when I was driving on a familiar stretch of road, and all of a sudden, I reached a landmark that made me think, How did I get here? I had been driving carefully enough, but my mind had wandered to the point that I lost track of my surroundings.
Of course, it would be helpful for us always to be attentive when we are driving, for our safety and that of others. But how often, even in our spiritual lives, are we just going through the motions?
We read the Bible, but we don’t really seek to understand what God is telling us.
We pray, but we don’t seek answers.
We serve, but we don’t seek to do so in ways that will draw people to the Lord.
When we are attentive, it changes how we live.
Charles Spurgeon once told the story of a school teacher who asked a little girl why she was not understanding even simple things. The little girl replied, “I don’t know, but I sometimes think I have so many things to learn that I do not have enough time to understand.”
That can be true for us, too; time is short. So we must prioritize our activities so that we can understand and truly appreciate each task we undertake.
Spurgeon said, “There may be much hearing, much reading, much attendance at public services, and very small result, and all because the word was not the subject of thought, and was never embraced by the understanding. What is not understood is like meat undigested, more likely to be injurious than nourishing.”
So take time this year to be attentive. It will enrich your days.
My child, listen to what I say,
and treasure my commands.
2 Tune your ears to wisdom,
and concentrate on understanding.
3 Cry out for insight,
and ask for understanding.
4 Search for them as you would for silver;
seek them like hidden treasures.
5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord,
and you will gain knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord grants wisdom!
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
-Proverbs 2.1-6, NLT