As he drove, a young man looked down at the text message on his cell phone. Suddenly he was off the road, knocked down a sign, and his car was nose down in the ditch. It could have been worse. The sign could have been a person that he killed.
A star basketball player was headed down the court and preparing for the critical shot of the game. A family member in the crowd hollered at him; he lost his focus and missed the shot. They lost the game.
Saul, the young king of Israel, became jealous of David after David killed Goliath. The citizens were giving more glory to David than to Saul. Saul let this sidetrack him from leading and governing Israel to spending the rest of his reign trying to kill David. This diversion cost Saul his life and his kingdom. (Story in 1 Samuel chapters 9 – 31)
Esau went hunting and came back home wearied, faint, and starved. Jacob was fixing some soup. Esau saw and smelled it and said, “I want some now.” Jacob took advantage and offered Esau the soup if he would sell him his birthright. In his hunger and faintness, Esau thought, “What good will this birthright do for me? I’m hungry and about to starve to death. Take the birthright. Now give me the soup.” This decision was a significant sidetrack for Esau that would cause him distress for years. (Genesis 25).
In our spiritual life today, there are many possible sidetracks. Here are a few:
Not holding faith and a good conscience – (1 Timothy 1:19-20) Paul mentions two individuals who did not hold faith and a good conscience. Hymenaeus and Alexander were not true to the faith (doctrinal belief) and did not have a good conscience. They watered down their faith because they weren’t living right and were blaspheming – speaking injurious language about God. Paul recommends discipline for them so they would learn not to blaspheme. They were not respecting God in their life or speech. Sound doctrine (teaching) produces holy living and a good conscience. God brings joy, peace, and blessing to our lives as we respect and honor him.
In our times, Christians (including preachers) water down the truth so it will excuse their sins. They get sidetracked by thinking the lost will respond if they talk and act similarly to unbelievers. Then they use the vocabulary of the world to make it funny. Have you noticed how often Christian use the phrase, “O my God,” without even a thought that they are taking God’s name in vain? Or, it may be, “O my gosh” when “gosh” is a euphemism for God. But if you look and talk and act like an unbeliever, you have nothing to offer them. Christ has not made a difference in your life.
So, we get sidetracked trying to please the world using their language and light-hearted, disrespectful talk about God. There is no thought about the real message we are conveying. God is the eternal, holy, righteous, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God who has also demonstrated unlimited love. He is so much more than “the man upstairs.”
Loving the world
Paul wrote that “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10). We don’t know precisely what worldly activities and pleasures Demas wanted, but he did forsake Paul and his ministry for it. The temptations of the world sidetracked him. Paul had once mentioned him as a faithful co-worker along with Luke in Colossians 4:14.
Love of Money and Recognition
Ananias and Sapphira were distracted by the love of money and the love of recognition. It cost them their lives. (Acts 5:1-11). Some Christians today give large sums of money so they can receive acknowledgment.
Others make critical decisions based solely on money. For example, You receive a new job offer. You accept the offer because the pay is much better than what you are making now. But what does the Lord want you to do? How close is it to a good church and Christian school for you and your family? What are your opportunities for Christian service? God may want you to stay right where you are.
Letting good things sidetrack you from the best things. In Luke 10, Martha was cumbered about with much serving, but Mary listened at the feet of Jesus. Martha complained. Jesus said that Mary had chosen the “good part.” Sometimes you can become so busy doing good things that you miss out on God’s best for you.
What is your focus or goal in life? Don’t get sidetracked! If you want to give glory to God, you should consider and implement these verses in your daily life.
Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Colossians 3:1-2 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth,
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Stay focused on Christ and the goal He has set for you.