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When Good Gifts (Like Marriage) Distract Us from God

The Dangers of Distraction

The not yet married today live in the most technologically advanced generation in history. That means we also live in the most connected generation and therefore likely the most distracted one. Distraction has always threatened faith in Jesus—long before cable television, the first iPhone, and Candy Crush. Jesus said that some will hear the word of God, “but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature” (Luke 8:14). Still today, every distraction—good or bad—could probably be given one of those three labels: cares, riches, or pleasures. The three are different, but Jesus warned us that each has the power to distract us from him, blind us to his worth, and deafen us to his Word. In that way, distractions can decide our destinies.

As Christians, we are the happy, hope-filled, and strange people who “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). But there’s just so much to see in this world! Another movie, another football game, another fashion trend, another app. All the cares, riches, and pleasures make it easy to forget the unseen and to settle for far less. The things that distract us are not necessarily bad in themselves. If God is our treasure, his glory our mission, and his Word our guide, we can enjoy all his gifts to the full.

Not Yet Married

Marshall Segal

This book will help single people make the most of their not-yet-married life, seeing it as a unique period of unmatched devotion to Christ and ministry to others, even while waiting for a spouse.

But the gifts become destructive when they distract us from him. God says, “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). We skip the fountain and hit up the vending machine instead. We take things God has given us to point us to him, and we try to make them hold the living water only he can carry for us. We turn gifts into gods. And as the world watches our life—how we spend our free time, what we talk about, where we spend our money—they will know where our heart lives (Matt. 6:21). God will too.

Making Time for What Lasts Forever

The problem with so many of us today is that we have close to no anxiety about spiritual realities and endless anxiety about the things of this world. We attend church weekly, maybe even join a small group, but we don’t lose any sleep over Christianity. It doesn’t cost us much at all. We pray for fifteen seconds before most meals but don’t know how to talk to God for much longer than that. We spend a few minutes in the Bible here and there but nowhere near as much time as we spend browsing our social media feeds. We have all the time in the world for the things that will not last and so very little time for the things that last forever.

If God is our treasure, his glory our mission, and his Word our guide, we can enjoy all his gifts to the full.

I say “we,” not “you.” I’m a sports fan—Reds and Bengals (yes, there are a few Cincinnati fans out there). My wife and I have our favorite TV shows. We love trying new restaurants, especially sushi and Thai food. I love to read, and she loves pinning things on Pinterest to cook or put up around our house. You can find me on social media. All these things are filled with potential to help me make much of God as the creative and generous Father who loves giving his kids good things. And all are pulsing with the power to draw my attention and affection away from God and his purpose for me. Married or unmarried, distractions have the ability to destroy us.

Marriage Divides and Strengthens

Marriage is very good—in the Bible and from experience—but it does demand a lot of you. Marriage will not complete you (at least not in the way most people imagine); it will divide you. Paul loved marriage and what a Christian marriage says to the world (Eph. 5:22–27, 32), but he also knew what love like that costs. He knew that intimacy in a covenant comes with great responsibility. The blessings—and they are many—come with burdens to bear.

Paul says, “Those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that” (1 Cor. 7:28). He uses the same word for “worldly troubles” elsewhere to describe poverty (2 Cor. 8:2), persecution (1 Thess. 1:6), and even the cross (Col. 1:24). That doesn’t mean marriage isn’t filled with incredible joy. All of Paul’s deepest joys came through sacrifice and suffering (Rom. 5:3–5). Like everything difficult done for Christ, marriage strengthens us to endure in faith, refines and purifies our character, reinforces the hope we have in our Redeemer, and reminds us of the flood of God’s love that’s been poured into hearts and lives.

This article is adapted from Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness and Dating by Marshall Segal.

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