Ephesians 3:13-19 Distractions are Dangerous
Nov 14, 2017 // By:Dave // 1 comment
Distractions are dangerous.
“Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the 1saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
Paul writes to the Ephesian believers to encourage them. They have received news of his Roman imprisonment, assigned guards, and of his escort to Rome (and to Caesar himself). The Ephesians, knowing that imprisonment can be brutal, if not certainly uncomfortable, and that his escort to Rome means his eventual execution, they are concerned for his welfare. Paul responds to this concern with a heartfelt correction of their perspective.
In summary, Paul tells them not to be discouraged by his trials. That his trials are for their behalf and God’s glory. That while they have been worried about his imprisonment, he has been praying to the Father that these trials would bear fruit that the believers he has been ministering to would come to a deeper understanding of the riches of God’s glory, to be strengthened through His indwelling Spirit, giving them more faith, and a deeper understanding of the Father’s love which is greater and worth more than all knowledge on earth (resulting in being filled with God Himself).
Paul has written about these topics in other letters to other believers in other cities.
Romans 8:28 reminds us that God can use all things, and will use all things to His glory and our good.
Phillipians 3:1-12 reminds us that he thinks worldly accomplishments and wisdom are “dung” compared to the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ (and that he willingly trades it all in exchange for Christ Himself).
Paul details his impressive Jewish resume. None of his critics or challengers could boast the pedigree carried by Paul. He mentions this only to emphasize how little such things mean, next to faith in Christ. Paul’s language here is sharp and to the point. He then explains how a christian’s focus ought to be purely on Christ, just as a runner concentrates on their one goal in order to run effectively. Rather than looking to the past, or to ourselves, we ought to look forward, to an eternity with the Lord and all other things are to fall by the wayside and treated as distractions in comparison.
Paul’s mindset is clearly that if his worldly pedigree is dung compared to his relationship with Jesus, than he can certainly not be distracted by a little matter like Roman imprisonment. He can also not worry about something as trivial as death of his physical body while running this race towards Christ either.
“for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.”
Distractions are dangerous.
In an article I found online about how and where to focus attention during athletic endeavors, some interesting and very helpful advice came right out at me.
- form; learn the movements until they become autonomic (then they are like muscular habits)
- strength training requires focusing on what is happening (not on the muscles making it happen)
- running requires focus on where you are running (not controlling the muscles making you run)
- recovery after exhertion is faster when we are relaxed (rather than worried or tense)
what are the christian parallels?
- form=faith (Matt 9:29), prayer (Eph 6:19), practicing good not evil (Rom 16:19), learning to habitually walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:16).
- strength training=trials in life where we are made stronger, where our form is tested and proven useful. (Rom 5:4, James 1:2-4).
- running=walk with Jesus on this earth (swimming against the current) (1 Cor 9:24, Heb 12:1-3, 2 Tim 4:7).
- recovery=principle of not allowing anxiety or fear to interfere with our fellowship with God or each other. (Phil 4:6-7, 1 John 4:18, and my all time favorite Joshua 1:9 (Joshua is the Hebrew name for Jesus, by the way … so I see this command from God to His people, to follow the Savior into their promised land and to do it without fear or anxiety because God is with them, “Emmanuel”)
Our time on this side of eternity, before the Father welcomes us home, is meant (meaning God’s desire and plan for us) to be the following:
- We have made sharing His love the utmost priority because we love Him and desire to love our neighbor. (Luke 10:27).
- Since this is our priority, things that would distract us from this goal are recognized and treated just as such; distractions (like a candy bar left on the side of the track we are running on, we ignore it so we can focus on successfully clearing the next hurdle instead of performing a perfect faceplant on the cement)
- There is nothing comparible to knowing Jesus as deeply as possible and experiencing Him inside us.
Our values (and definitions of what we deem valuable) are the dictionary definition of a word that shapes our lives and determine our directions, steps and turns. These in turn determine who and what we become.
that word is “priority”
The question that drives us to our dictionary is “what are your priorities?”
Paul knows his values, he has set his priorities, and has determined where and why he runs in what direction. (By doing so, he has a clear recognition of all distractions)
This writing to the Ephesians is to encourage them to not be distracted. He reminds them why he has run, for a far bigger race than his own comfort, and is praying for his readers to realize the value of knowing Christ as well.
Eph 3:13 “Therefore I ask you not to lose heart…”
Remember Who and what you are running for.
εν διακονια τω θεω, Dave Cadieux