38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Distractions have always been a part of human life and can serve as a stumbling block for Christians in our daily walk. They can be anything that competes for our time and attention and draws us away from God. In the above passage taken from Luke we can see that Martha busied herself with entertaining while her sister Mary chose to be still and listen to Christ’s teaching. Although Martha was frustrated by her sister’s idleness, Jesus pointed out that Martha’s many concerns were unimportant. The word is our path to salvation and all other concerns are equivocal.
Christ again points out the presence of distractions in this world that can separate us from God in the parable of the Soils. He speaks of the seed that fell among the thorns and goes on to further clarify himself to the twelve. 18 “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Mark 4:18-19
Certainly distractions are still present today. Work is still a part of our daily lives and a Biblical imperative. 10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10. Although work is necessary we must take care that it does not detract from our study of the word, worship of God, prayer, and fellowship with the saints. One aspect of work that can serve as a distraction is the daily commute. The average American spends 2.5 hours in a car every day with the majority of that being work related.
Worry is another constant that has been with us throughout the ages. Modern-day worries include money, job security, crime, health, politics, etc. These worries are not uncommon but Jesus plainly tells us that our worries are unfounded. 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:31-34
A more recent source of distraction for mankind is technology. During the past several decades technology has advanced at a breakneck pace. Television, internet, smartphones, and social media have infiltrated every aspect of our lives. The most recent Nielsen study showed that the average American spends 4 hours and 39 minutes per day on television! It is estimated that 79% of Americans use the internet, spending 2 hours and 47 minutes per day online.
The smartphone has become an extension of our body. A study in 2011 showed that the average person checks their smartphone email 34 times per day. Each time lasts less than 30 seconds and disrupts the activity that was being performed. It appears that receiving a new email is a way of providing positive feedback and this action actually becomes a compulsion. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is another distraction presented by technology. It is estimated that 47% of Americans use social media, with half logging on daily.
Now I do not intend to say that all technology is wicked. I am using the internet currently to research for this article. There are sites that allow us to search for any Bible verse in any translation with simultaneous parallel commentaries. We can also encourage brethren instantly on social media. However, technology also poses some of the greatest dangers for a Christian. My goal is to focus on distractions therefore I point out the time consumed by the average American every day on television and the internet. There are countless temptations that can bombard us in these different media but that is beyond the scope of this commentary.
Brethren, we must be ever mindful of the danger of distractions in our daily walk. Some of these have been around for millennia and some just for the past few generations. Our lives are being permeated by these distractions and it can be difficult to pinpoint their genesis. The danger is that our time is robbed by meaningless activities that cannot hope to contribute to our salvation. 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16