How many times have you experienced the following? You press the elevator button in a large building and after stepping onto the elevator and find yourself surprised by the sensation of going down instead of up? Or perhaps you’ve been that passenger that steps off onto the wrong floor only to reveal your mistake to others with a sheepish grin as those still on the elevator stand grinning at you as the door closes leaving you stranded on the wrong floor. Or worse yet, due to an excessive focus on texting you wander into the wrong waiting room for the second time in one day. And yes, I do speak from experience here! Lack of focus, lack of sleep or simply too tethered to your electronic device, if we are not careful we sometimes wander off course and require corrective actions. The problem I believe lies in our focus or perhaps more importantly the lens through which we view life. When we focus our life through the perspective of the Word of God it’s a totally different world out there! In the letter Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus he gives shares some great advice on how to live life, how to walk, as he put it. Here’s what he said, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,” Circumspectly is one of those words that you can easily take apart. “Circum” from circle, or circumference, around. And “spectly” our word spectacle helps here, or seeing something in full view. So, circum… around, spectly… look. In other words, walk looking around. I picture a cat walking the top of a fence with dangerous dog below carefully putting one paw in front of the other. Talk about totally focused! When we walk in with a clear focus, we walk carefully!
So, why walk carefully? Let me give you two important reasons. First, walking carefully keeps us faithful. There are really only two ways to walk… foolishly & wisely. The Psalmist wrote, “the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, and there is none that doeth good.” Paul echoed this in his Roman letter “because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” We must walk carefully. Secondly walking carefully helps us not only to be faithful but it helps us to be honest. Paul wrote to the church at Galatia, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Honesty with ourselves, honesty with others and honesty with God in not an option but it is a prerequisite.
As professional golfer Ray Floyd was getting ready to tap in a routine 9-inch
putt, he saw the ball move ever so slightly. According to the rulebook, if the ball moves in this way the golfer must take a penalty stroke. Yet consider the situation. Floyd was among the leaders in a tournament offering a top prize of $108,000. To acknowledge that the ball had moved could mean he would lose his chance for big money. Writer David Holahan describes as follows what others might have done: “The athlete ducks his head and flails wildly with his hands, as if being attacked by a killer bee; next, he steps back from the ball, rubbing his eye for a phantom speck of dust, all the while scanning his playing partners and the gallery for any sign that the ball’s movement has been detected by others. If the coast is clear, he taps the ball in for his par. Ray Floyd, however, didn’t do that. He assessed himself a penalty stroke and wound up with a bogey on the hole. Now that’s a focused life!
I love this poem, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one would walk with me than merely show the way. The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear; Fine counsel is confusing but examples always clear. And the best of all the preachers are the ones who live their creeds, for to see good put in action is what everybody needs. I soon can learn to do it if you let me see it done. I can watch your hands in action but your tongue too fast may run. And the sermon you deliver may be very wise and true, But I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do, For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give, but there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.” Not sure what floor you find yourself on in the elevator of life, but the real question is… are you going up?
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.ReachReach