Phil 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Paul framed his fleshy experience walking in the world for Christ as a metaphor, in this case of a race. Paul used sports because races were popular. The first Olympics were during that era. Races were something people could relate to. I mention it in relation to the words of James because the antidote for distractions is to focus. Paul didn’t say it was easy to focus, in fact he said he strained (kicked at the goads). He didn’t say it was automatic, either. He said he was pressing toward the goal with the prize he felt was calling him. He also made a point to say he hadn’t yet taken hold of that prize.
Jn 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. Jesus warns us to remain in him when he speaks about the vine and branches. The world is one gigantic distraction. Cars, TV, work – these are the innocuous things that distract us, never mind the more overt temptations like sex, money, gluttony, and so forth.
Jn 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Jesus declares he is the source of eternal life. His question demands our focus. Jesus always confronts you with the truth and makes you decide what to believe about it.
Rev 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. This verse gives just enough of a glimpse at what eternal life will be like to know it is worth any price.
Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. The Good News here is that the price was paid by another and for us it is free.
Jn 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John makes it clear that there is a string attached: “believe.” This is a verb. Verbs mean action. Jn 15:5 tells us to abide in Jesus. Jn 5:14 warns us to stop sinning – our sin has consequences. Jn 15:6 gives us a glimpse as to what those consequences are. The advice to glean from this is to focus on the goal and press on.
This post is an excerpt from my book Ask James one.