Are You Even Paying Attention?

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Sometimes, while watching a movie or a tv show, I will talk at my screen. Often, if a character is being dumb, I will have to let them know. I’m a very annoying person to watch movies with. I will often chide characters for not being situationally aware: they are oblivious to their surroundings and it will often end in their detriment.

The other day, while I was reading the Bible, I had one of those “Are you even paying attention?!” moments with one of the characters.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” John 12: 1-6 (NIV)

This is a story where the love and faith of Mary is contrasted with the dark and unrepentant heart of Judas. This is one of those examples where he said something that seemed like it was right, but his heart was all wrong. His words, actions, and beliefs were all out of whack.

What amazes me about this is that he was with Jesus from the beginning. Judas wasn’t a second-tier member or the newcomer to the group: he was a full-fledged disciple. He had been present for every sign, wonder, and miracle that Jesus performed. Judas was one of the twelve who helped distribute loaves and fishes to the crowd of 20,000+ people who came to listen to Jesus one day. And he was also there to pick up the leftovers.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” John 6:12-13 (NIV)

I’m not going to lie, I often wonder about waste. I look at things that people value, the church values, or that I value and I wonder if it’s a waste of resources. I will look at the bright shiny toys that a church will use and I honestly wonder if that’s the best use of the ministry’s money or if it could be better spent another way. Sometimes this is motivated by a genuine concern for others and a sense of financial responsibility and other times it comes from a place of judgment.

But then I remember verses like the ones in John 6, where Jesus instructs the disciples to collect the leftovers so that nothing is wasted. God’s heart isn’t one for frivolous spending or excess, but it’s also not for stinginess. Instead, we’re called to steward what we have well. Sometimes it might look like sharing our lunch with someone surprising. Other times, it might look like giving an extravagant in our worship to God. And sometimes it looks like picking up our extra and giving to someone else in need.

While we might not go through life like a character in a movie or a tv show, I think there are times when we blind ourselves to those around us. Honestly, I do this. It’s much easier to stay in my little bubble instead of being spiritually and situationally aware. But I believe God has called us to live with our eyes open so we can respond when he speaks and follow where he leads.

Let’s choose to be spiritually and situationally aware of what’s going on within us and around us so we can respond according to God’s leading.

Do you ever find yourself not paying attention to yourself or those around you?

What do you think spiritual awareness looks like in this season?

To go Deeper: Read Collecting Miracle Leftovers, Caring and Sharing

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