Proverbs 4:25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
Perhaps you, too, have heard these two important words on occasion as a young person: “PAY ATTENTION!” These two words play a vital role in our vocabulary, as a great tool to remind us of the importance of staying focused on the important things in life.
In reference to our text verse, we would see from verses 22-27 of the same chapter that there is an instruction to “keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” We would also see a caution to use the right words, as well as making sure we consider the paths we walk and abstain from the evil way.
But in the middle of all these verses, we see verse 25, which, to sum it up into two words, would come to say: “Pay attention.” Life is full of distractions. They are literally everywhere. Think about all the billboard advertisements we see on road trips or even during our commute to work. Consider all the commercials that accompany each televised sporting event. These distractions are there to detour us from the prime objective at hand.
Life also happens to be full of priorities, and these “distractions” are there to pull us away from our priorities. For example, the worker that has a full list of objectives to accomplish during their shift at work can be heavily distracted by a device we all carry–our cellphones. What would possibly start as a productive day with good intentions and motives to complete all tasks at hand, could turn into a distracted day resulting in minimal objectives completed.
What would be the key in this situation? “Let thine eyes look right on and let thine eyelids look straight before thee…” or simply, PAY ATTENTION.
I truly believe that not paying attention is the reason why many of the “ugly situations” in life happen to us as they do, and as often as they do. At age five, I got hit by a car while trying to show my dad I could cross the street on my own…but why? Because I didn’t pay attention. Sure, I could blame it on the driver for not seeing me; or I could simply take ownership and pay attention more.
Many times, I scored much lower on academic testing than I should have scored…but why? Because I didn’t pay attention. Sure, I could have blamed the teacher for not asking over and over again if I understood the material covered; or I could have simply taken ownership and paid more attention.
I can’t count the number of times I tried to build a toy or a piece of furniture without looking at the instructions and ended up wasting my time or committing irreparable mistakes…but why? Because I didn’t pay attention! Again, the blame game could continue, but it would ultimately be on me.
Let’s take it a step further.
Not paying attention has more detrimental consequences at stake. The parents that are too busy with work, ministry, and everyday responsibility, will end up missing the many warning signs that their child is going through a tough time. They may notice the surface of it and address it with a quick rebuke or reprimand (acting as nothing more than just a temporary band-aid with a weak adhesive).
Then what happens? The tough time, which could have been temporary and overcome with a little love and “attention,” has now turned into rebellion and resentment. This is where a child will start to test their parents and even test God. As a result of not paying attention like we should as parents, now we have a child that has lost their purity or gotten involved in something wicked on the Internet (again, all the warning signs ignored – such as a child having their own electronic device, unmonitored, unattended), or even got wrapped up in an emotional relationship.
Sure, we may be prospering in our jobs. Our ministries may be booming, but now we have the shame of having a situation at home which we could have avoided if we were to only PAY ATTENTION more.
I understand that paying attention does not help us to avoid all bad things, but I do believe if we were to trace back some of the “uglies” we’ve had happen, we would see some possible avenues of avoidance with a little more paying attention.
This same truth applies to our marriages. We often miss the warning signs because we are too proud or too busy to focus on them. I’m thankful for a godly wife. My wife is also a very good wife. She cheers me on in every pursuit I have for our family or for God. Over the years in our marriage, there have been (a few, but not many) warning signs she’s given me. It could have been some relationships that weren’t best. It could be some priorities that may be out of place. It could be that I needed to pay more attention to our family.
Perhaps in my zeal to see lives changed, I wasn’t always “keeping my heart with all diligence” and did not see the effect certain situations were having on my time, my ministry, and my family. I’m thankful I was able to pay attention to her prudent warnings. By the way, we do this for each other, and we are happier and more fulfilled because of it.
I’m also thankful for the many friends I have that love me enough to give me the occasional warning as well. Unless we think someone is out to get us, we should take heed to the caution of others. I can think of more than one occasion in which I, or another teacher, cautioned a parent in the school about associations or patterns we saw, only to be met with: “You don’t know what you are talking about, my child does not even like that person”…only to see those same warnings come to fruition. Yet nobody wins in that scenario, because “being right” was never the goal.
This is the truth we see in Mark 14:38, “Watch ye and pray, let ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.”
Sadly, most change, yea, bad change, happens because we don’t pay attention to the effect our decisions are truly having. We make decisions based on convenience, appeasement, and the here and now; and yet we position ourselves toward an unhealthy and unwanted trajectory that will end up hurting many.
What is the thought this morning? Pay attention more. We all have priorities, but we also all have distractions. Don’t let another day be wasted with our sons, our daughters, our spouses, our ministries, our God…all because we did not pay attention.
If I have one regret, it is that I should have done more. Go out there and spend time with your children.
One reason we refuse to release bitterness towards others is because we think it is our right.