Much Closer Attention

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1 ESV).

I can still hear the pastor’s question in my mind’s ear. He was preaching hard and was expecting some sort of response from the congregation. When it didn’t come he hollered, “Are you here or have you gone home?!?” It was his not-so-subtle way of telling us that we should be paying much closer attention to the message he was presenting. A number of  people quickly sat up straight and reacted with autonomic “amens”.

I think those of us who have been in the church for a long time no longer apply an appropriate amount of focus to the messages. It may be that we figure that we’ve heard it all before.

Perhaps we have.

Our world has become so busy that we quite easily become stuck on autopilot. Our jobs require our full attention, sapping us of our motivation for other things. When we get home we’d just as soon sit on the couch with Netflix or sports or whatever, anything that isn’t, well…work.

We may keep up with our devotional time, reading from the Word every day, but often times we find our minds elsewhere as we read. We get to the end and can’t remember any of it, just the list of things we need to do as soon as we’re done.

We understand all of the stuff that makes us Christians: Jesus, grace, faith, yada yada…. We are really hoping that we can live off yesterday’s Manna; forgetting that it doesn’t keep (Exodus 16:19-20)!

In a lot of ways, this blog serves as a reminder for me to slow down as I read the Word. It encourages me to look more deeply into the heart of God, to see Him not just as God, but also as Father. My perspective shifts from big picture to intricate details.

It’s the difference between painting a barn and painting a masterpiece. The barn requires little attention. One can almost blindly slather on the paint. But the masterpiece –think Sistine Chapel, Mona Lisa, and The Last Supper– requires intense focus and attention to detail.

When Eve had her infamous conversation with the serpent she was deceived. The serpent was able to twist the Words of God because Eve hadn’t paid close enough attention to them. We still deal with the end result of that conversation.

Our text tells us that “we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” I’m reminded of a time when I had been given directions to a certain place. I listened, but apparently not closely enough. I found myself miles from my destination. I had to call again for directions, but I listened much more closely that time!

God has given us pretty good instructions for our walk here on earth. He even wrote them down! But all too often we give them a cursory read and move on. James said it this way, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like”  (James 1:23-24 ESV).

I encourage you, as I encourage myself, to “pay much closer attention” to God’s Word. “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:1-5 ESV). Dig more deeply and find the hidden treasures of God!

2 thoughts on “Much Closer Attention

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  1. Tim, I suspect that the time you spend reflecting and blogging does exactly that … allowing you to focus your attention on God’s love and truth. Many of us would similarly benefit in not just reading yours and others’ thoughts, but doing a little journaling, if only to help ourselves “pay closer attention.”

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