Summary: How we are to focus on the cross in this life.
September 3, 2003 Ephesians 5:15-20
One of many things that impresses me about the ministry of Jesus was His focus. He never lost sight of the reason why he had come. As a matter of fact, at times he was so focused on His mission, that his disciples started to become worried about his physical and even mental well being. John 4 gives one of these accounts -
His disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, . . . “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.
At times Jesus was so focused on reaching out to lost souls and saving the world that he didn’t want to take the time to sit around and eat. When Peter tried to stop Him, Jesus rebuked him harshly. He refused to lose His focus - to save the world by dying for the world.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have that great of a focus in life? To know exactly what you were here for and to spend a majority of your time and energy on accomplishing that one goal. I would venture to bet that most of us aren’t living with any goals - all we’re trying to do is get by from one day to another - doing our chores and then going to bed at night exhausted. Paul’s encouragement to us today is to get some purpose in our lives - a focus. It’s all about -
The Focus Factor
I. What it is
What are we supposed to be focused on? What is our ultimate purpose in life? In today’s letter to the Ephesians - Paul tells us. Therefore, start looking more carefully at how you walk around, not as unwise but as wise, buying back the time. One main goal in our life is to walk wisely. How do we walk around in a wise manner? Paul said that Christ crucified (is) . . . the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24) So if I’m going to walk around through this world in a wise manner, I need to look at everything through the cross - under the shadow of the cross.
When I look at life under the shadow of the cross, I have to conscientiously decide whether the paths I am taking will lead me closer to Christ or farther away from Him. For instance, if you were in school and trying to determine what major to pick - you have to ask yourself, “what would be the wise decision? If I take biology or science, chances are I will be inundated with evolution theology and man centered religions. Would this be a wise choice for me to take? Would it take me closer to the cross?” Or if you were faced with a promotion, you need to ask yourself, “will this promotion enable me to serve my Lord and my family in a better way? Will it lead me to pride, or will it hinder my view of the cross in any way?” If I’m thinking about dating someone I have to ask, “will he or she lead me closer to Christ or further away from him?” Paul says to look carefully at where you’re walking - don’t just make a decision based on how much money you can make or how much recognition you can get. The problem is all we tend to think about is the bottom dollar - how much money will it make me or what will make me happy.
We need to have better focus. Jesus once said in Luke 12,
“The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
The problem with this rich man wasn’t that he was rich, but that he didn’t have the proper focus in this world. So what did God call him? A FOOL. Why? Because he didn’t have any focus in what life was all about. That’s why Paul literally said, do not be without restraint , but bring what the will of the Lord is together in your mind. He was saying, “don’t just have the Great Commission be a concept - make it your game plan.” Figure out in your mind HOW you are going to keep Christ in your life and bring Him to the people in your life. Plan your budget, your time, and your life NOT AROUND what kind of a house or a car you can buy, or how much money you can make, but around how you can fulfill the will of God in your life.