Discipline in an Age of Distraction

March 9, 2021  - By Jessica Mathisen

Discipline in an Age of Distraction | Well-Watered Women Articles

At any given moment, you may find me listening to a podcast, working on my laptop, and eating a snack. Or I might be taking a walk with my son in the stroller, talking on the phone, and scrolling Instagram—all at the same time. How often do we pride ourselves on being able to do more than one thing at a time? And how often are those multiple things and distractions that we are doing actually done well? Lately, the Lord has been convicting me of how important it is to truly give him my best and to focus on what is right in front of me. 

The Deception of Multitasking

The culture around us tells us that, as women, we can do it all. You don’t have to look far to find many examples of women who seem to have it all and do it all. But is this truly what our Heavenly Father has asked of us?

In Malachi 2:1-9, we read some stern words from the Lord to the priests. He is upset with them because they are not giving him their best. They pick and choose which of his commands to keep, and they do not care about honoring his name but rather about their own comfort. 

He says to them in verses 1-2, “‘And now, you priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me’” (NIV).

This is a serious admonition from the Lord. You may read it and think, “I’m not a priest, so I’m off the hook!” But think again—1 Peter 2:9 calls Christians “a royal priesthood.” When we are in Christ, we are his ambassadors who represent him to a world in need of hope and healing. But oftentimes, we are so busy in our distraction Ithat we miss the calling he has placed right in front of us. 

The Motive of Our Hearts

We may overcommit because we are afraid of disappointing someone, only to find ourselves riddled with responsibilities that we cannot handle. We may start out with good intentions, and we say we are going to serve in Jesus’ name, but we really want to do it for our own image. Even worse, we spend money we don’t need to spend to keep up with others and feel more significant. When we fill our lives with more material things and more appointments, we begin to miss the most important thing—our relationship with our Heavenly Father. 

God knows the motives of our hearts. He knows why we said yes when we should have said no. He knows why we are distracting ourselves with yet another podcast in the car instead of quieting our spirits with worship music. When we are constantly distracted by multiple tasks, responsibilities, and entertainment sources, we miss the opportunity to quiet our souls and meet with God.

The deception of multitasking tells us that we can do it all and that we do not have any limits. We believe that we can take on anything and everything, and we do because we want others to view us as capable and productive. But sooner or later, we will crash and burn. Only God is limitless—he is the Alpha and Omega, and his omnipotence is what empowers us to do what he has called us to do. Trying to do it all in our own strength will fail us every time. When we accept our weakness, we grow in dependence on our powerful God. 

The Disappointment of Messy Christianity

The lie of multitasking causes us to believe that our productivity allows us to accomplish more throughout each day. But this simply isn’t true. When we try to do more than one thing at the same time, it leads us to a distracted and messy life that lacks structure and discipline. You’ve probably seen the quotes on social media, written in meme form—“God bless this hot mess” or “All I need is a little coffee and a whole lot of Jesus” or “Excuse the chaos, we live here.” 

There is a trend in which “messy Christianity” is accepted in the name of “authenticity.” It is important for us to know and believe that we do not have to clean ourselves up for God to love us and accept us. We do not have to save, redeem, or purify ourselves. However, I fear that amid this messy Christianity trend, we have forgotten the incredibly important aspect of following Christ that makes us more like him—sanctification. 

Turning from Our Mess to His Righteousness

Sanctification is a big churchy word that simply means the process of being made like Jesus. It is the slow and often painful journey of having our hearts scrubbed and intentions refined until we are finally made perfect in his image—either in heaven or when he returns. 

Yes, the process of sanctification is messy. But I fear that we have used this “messy Christianity” term to excuse the need for repentance in today’s culture. Hebrews 12:5-6 states, “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’” God enables us to turn from habits and patterns of behavior that are hurting us and dishonoring his name by offering us a better way. In his love, he helps us turn from our mess to his righteousness.

We need to acknowledge our weaknesses. We do not have to act like we have it all together. But we also need to rely on his strength and remember that we have been crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20). We are new creations, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have everything we need to walk in godliness (2 Cor. 5:17, 2 Pet. 1:3). God grants us wisdom as we consider how to bring glory to his name through stewarding our time and energy.

Self-Discipline as an Act of Worship

Colossians 3:23 states, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Let’s break this verse down together. 

“Whatever you do” includes washing the dishes, talking to a friend, making dinner, walking the dog—no part of our day is too small to be committed to the Lord. 

“Work heartily” means working hard and with excellence. God desires our best, not our half-hearted leftovers. We don’t have to obsess over perfection, but he wants us to honor his name in our work.

“As for the Lord and not for men” means we are not working for a paycheck or serving to receive a round of applause. We are working as unto the Lord. 

Everything changes when we see our lives as an act of worship. We are to offer our lives as living sacrifices, pleasing him with everything we do. Are you a tired mama, wiping booties and preparing snacks? Do it for the glory of God. Are you an office manager, keeping things together so that operations function smoothly? Do it for the glory of God. Are you a nurse, laying down your life for the sake of others’ well-being? Do it for the glory of God!

Faithfulness in the Mess

Yes, life is full and even messy. It is hard and often stretches us beyond what we think we can endure. But in the midst of the great difficulty, we find his faithfulness. We find that he has not left us and that “his grace is sufficient for us, because his power is made perfect in our weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Sisters, let us embrace the beauty of discipline and surrender our every action to him, praying we bring honor to his name with all that we do. 

Your Friend, Jessica

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