"Brethren, I have written a letter unto you" (Hebrews 13:22).

Archived Devotionals

November 2, 2020

Spiritual Inattentiveness

My Dear Friend,

      Mark tells us that from His seaside pulpit - a small fishing boat - Jesus "taught them many things" on one occasion (Mark 4:2). And, mind you, these "many things" were in addition to the lengthy parable of the sower and soil that followed (see vv. 1-20).

     Hmm, I wonder how long it took Jesus to fully teach all these "many things"? Probably not minutes but hours! Yet the people, so far as the record indicates, didn't seem to mind. Why?

     Their spiritual interest was very high! They believed Jesus was teaching the very Word of God and it was a life and death matter of eternal consequence. So they treated it as such. Nowhere in the four Gospels do we have any record of people complaining about how long Jesus preached and taught, or how long His healing and deliverance meetings lasted. Not one complaint was registered in His three years of ministry.

     The same is true of the early church in the Book of Acts, with a few exceptions. Luke informs us on one occasion when Paul broached the subject of the resurrection, the rationalistic Athenian intellectuals politely interrupted him, saying they would "hear thee again of this matter" (Acts 17:32).

     But on another occasion, when Paul "continued his speech until midnight," one of his congregants, a young man, fell from a third floor window, died, and was raised by Paul's prayers (Acts 20:6-12). We would expect everyone to sing and shout praises to Christ for this miracle, shake Paul's hand, hug each other, and go home. But the meeting wasn't over. Paul "talked a long while, even till break of day" (v. 12). While not stated, one gets the feeling Paul's hearers didn't seem to mind. Why? They were insatiably hungry for more of Jesus and His Word.

     As practical as they were spiritual, the people in Jesus' meetings brought their food with them to "church." And on more than one occasion His teaching went on so long He had to feed the throngs of listeners so they would not faint for hunger while returning to their homes. Where did they get this extraordinary interest in spiritual things?

     It came from the Spirit of God! They were in the full flow of what we call "revival," or a "move of the Holy Spirit," or a "spiritual renewal." Consequently, they were enthralled and captivated with Jesus. When He asked them to "hearken" (Mark 4:3), or listen attentively, their response was immediate and their spiritual attention span amazing. They simply could not get enough of His Word. But where are we today?

     When a pastor or speaker exceeds 30 minutes, murmurings rumble through the congregation. Some fidget. Others look repeatedly at their watches. Some begin texting. Others quietly duck out to attend to things they consider more important (golf, fishing, and so forth). Rather than examine themselves, they typically blame the minister. But let's be honest here.

     The same congregants manifest unlimited attentiveness about other things. We will eagerly watch a football or basketball game for hours, including multiple overtime periods, and be disappointed when it ends. We will shout and holler for hours at a political rally, and linger for another hour or two to chat with others holding our views. We will watch one, two, or even three movies, one right behind the other, at a single sitting without twitching, texting, or tweeting. We will play cards or golf or tennis several hours at a stretch and love every minute of it. Or we will "shop till we drop" with inexhaustible consumer zeal. These, my friend, are the facts. What do they tell us about ourselves?

     Not what we want to hear! We suffer from chronic, severe spiritual inattentiveness, especially to the deeper things of God. But Christ can heal us in one moment of confession and total surrender. If we want to be healed. If we want to be like the disciples who listened to Jesus by Galilee. If we want to be like the early Christians to whom Paul ministered. When Jesus Christ truly gets our attention, as He deserves, we will lengthen our interest in biblical truth and our walk and work with Christ, giving it the place in our lives it should command.

     Now don't misunderstand. We who minister must realize that, when it comes to sermons, longer is not always better. And we should certainly send God's people home before they faint or famish of hunger. Also, I'm not suggesting congregants bring their food with them to church and munch and crunch in between "amens" (though I notice candy seems to be the pacifier of choice in our fellowship to, I suppose, "sweeten" the message?). But as believers, we should ask ourselves this searching question?

     Why do I have endless interest, energy, excitement, and patience about worldly matters such as those mentioned above, yet so little for the most important matter in life: knowing Christ and His Word so we may walk closely with Him, please Him, build His spiritual kingdom, finish our course, and be ready for the things to come?

     Rather than try to suggest a reason, I'll just let the Holy Spirit take over here and work in our consciences until we come up with the correct answer . . .

Submitting to His Examination,

Greg Hinnant
Greg Hinnant Ministries

       Greg Hinnant Ministries
PO Box 788, High Point, NC 27261