“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
Life is full of distractions. And those distractions can be dangerous.
Take driving for example. Distractions can be deadly when we’re on the road. They are so deadly that many states and cities have passed laws that make it illegal to text while driving. One law goes into effect this week in the state of Washington where drivers who use any electronic device while behind the wheel of a car, even when stopped at a stoplight, can result in a charge called an “E-DUI.”
This law makes distracted driving equal in severity to drinking alcohol or taking drugs while operating a motor vehicle. The legislation was written in response to a 32 percent increase from 2014–2015 in the number of deaths resulting from distracted drivers. Washington’s governor, Jay Inslee, explained the reason for such a severe law: “When you are driving with a cellphone, you are a more dangerous driver than if you are driving drunk with a .08 blood alcohol level.”
I think we can all agree that distractions can be deadly when driving. But they can also be deadly to our marriages.
During my years of counseling couples, I have often seen distractions as one of the major causes of problems in marriage.
What about communication, sexual difficulties, and financial trouble? Aren’t these bigger problems? Or how about the “really big ones” like pornography and adultery? Or the issues involving children, extended family, friends, time, and expectations? Yes, these have all been found in studies to be significant causes of problems in marriage.
But if we look closely, we can see each one has its root cause in distractions–at least in part. Many of them, such as crying children or time spent away from each other because of work requirements, are direct distractions. Some of them, such as extended family and friends wanting us to spend time with them, are more indirect and self-imposed distractions. But they can all lead us away from our spouse toward something or someone else.
Distractions are dangerous to our marriage, first of all, because they can take our focus off of God. Having a healthy relationship with Him is essential to having a healthy marriage. Keeping our minds on Him and His truth helps us be a godly wife or husband. Distractions also tend to keep us from spending time with God in Bible study and prayer.
God warns us about this throughout His Word. We read in Hebrews 12:1-3: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
God tells us here to throw off distractions that keep us from following Him–things that hinder us and sin that entangles us. We are told to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, because He can show us how to live a life that will bless our marriages.
We see a similar passage in Colossians 3:1-2: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” We are to keep our eyes on things above–on Jesus.
We must not let the things of this world distract us away from Jesus and His truth. And we must not allow them to distract us from each other. Even in His busy schedule “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). If this was important for Jesus, then it is vital for us–as individuals and as a couple.
We also read in Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We most often see this passage applied to the church as a whole. But it also applies to other relationships—especially marriage. Part of God’s design and plan for marriage is to represent Christ’s relationship with the Church (see Ephesians 5:22-33).
Distractions happen in life. But they don’t have to destroy your marriage.
When you stay focused on God and follow His Word, you can keep distractions from taking over and pulling the two of you apart. It’s a choice…like texting while driving. Choose wisely and you’ll keep your marriage alive and well.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
♦ Read this week’s teaching together. What things stood out to you? Discuss those things together.
♦ What things in your life distract you from God and each other?
♦ Satan would love nothing more than to distract you from God and His truth. He wants “only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10) your marriage. Our Couple’s Bible Study series “Protecting Your Marriage with the Armor of God” gives you some tools to help you fight the enemy in the daily battle to keep your marriage strong.
♦ One of the best ways to keep focused on God and each other is to spend time with Him individually and with each other. Commit to God and each other that you will do this. Plan for this time and make it a priority. Remember that Jesus did this in His busy life, and so must we. And also remember that Satan will do everything to keep you from it. Our Couple Connect tool can help you plan a special weekly time for this as a couple
♦ Close your time in prayer together. Ask God to help you overcome the distractions that are sure to come your way. Ask Him to help you keep the commitments you made to Him and each other.
Over the next few weeks in this series, we will look at distractions in marriage more closely. And with the truths of God’s Word we will learn how to stay close to the Lord and close to each other, no matter what tries to get in the way.
May God bless you and your marriage in all His wonderful ways,
Other posts in the DISTRACTIONS IN MARRIAGE series:
Part 2: Three Steps to Avoid Their Harmful Effects
Part 3: Controlling Technology
Part 4: Choosing What Is Best
Part 5: Setting Priorities
Part 6: Caring for Loved Ones
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.