Keeping Track

10.27.22 Devo Image

”Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.”—Philippians 3:17–18 (NIV)

We’re ten months into 2022 and I think it’s time for some introspection. So far this year, are you looking more like Jesus or less? If the answer is less, maybe it’s time for a change.

In this passage, Paul challenges the Philippians to model their lives after faithful Christians. There is no shortage of people to imitate, but not everyone follows Jesus. These “enemies of the cross” have chosen to have their lives shaped by something or someone else. Paul’s challenge to the Philippians is a challenge for us, too. Who are we imitating? What are we imitating?

The culture around us is constantly begging for our attention—and culture is never passive. Jon Tyson points out that culture seeks to lead us from faith to doubt, from community to isolation, from rest to exhaustion, and from generosity to selfishness.

Every Sunday morning, I get a notification on my phone called, “Screen Time.” My iPhone keeps track of how much time I’ve spent on my phone that week, which apps I spent the most time on (spoiler alert: it’s Instagram & Kindle), and how this week’s screen time compares to the previous week. Last week, I spent six hours on my phone. Six whole hours! I don’t think I’m alone in this terrible screen time vortex, though. In today’s world, our devices tend to shape us. All the latest news, stock info, crypto updates, likes and comments on our photos, important text messages, and (of course) memes are all just one swipe away.

It’s a little ironic that my Screen Time notification pops up during the time I’m at a church service. It’s a sobering weekly reminder of how things rob our attention from the One who should ultimately get ALL of our attention and affection. If Jesus has captivated our hearts, then we shouldn’t be shaping our lives after our news updates, likes and comments, or negative people around us. We ought to be shaping our lives after the life and mission of Jesus.

The hard truth: We’re all being formed by something. I’ve heard it said, “We resemble what we worship, either for ruin or restoration.” For some of us, we’re imitating too much of what we see on our devices. Could it be that devouring fear-filled news has caused you to have a spirit of fear? Maybe too much social media is making you feel like you’re missing out—and the FOMO is unbearable. You may even have a close friend or a co-worker that is negatively influencing your life.

In today’s passage, Paul is basically saying, “Show me where you invest your time and I’ll show you your future.” We all tend to be a product of our habits and environment. Who or what are you spending time with? Is it bringing you closer to Jesus?

Don’t believe in the myth of neutrality as there are no neutral parts of your life. Every second of every day is contested space. If we’re not careful, someone or something will shape you into something else, rather than the image of Jesus. Paul’s challenge to the Philippians shows us that it’s important to actively monitor the influences in our lives and keep track of who we’re becoming.

Pause: Right now, who or what gets the bulk of your attention? Is it a specific relationship? A device or news channel?

Practice: Consider setting conservative time limits on your news or social media apps. Every part of your life is contested space—time limits help shift your attention away from distractions and more towards spiritual habits that will conform you into the image of Jesus.

Pray: Lord, today I want to surrender all of my attention and my desires. I want You to have my whole heart. Holy Spirit, reveal to me the person or thing that gets in the way of my relationship with You, Lord. Forgive me for the good things I have made into ultimate things. Forgive me for the times I’ve placed my faith and hope in people rather than in You. Thank you Jesus, for loving me even though I’m too easily distracted by those around me. I surrender all to You. Amen.

About the Author

Jimmy Purchase

Jimmy Purchase serves as the Groups Development Director at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Church Planting from Capital Seminary & Graduate School. He has been in full-time ministry since 2006, has helped plant two churches, and is passionate about seeing South Florida changed by the gospel of Jesus. Jimmy and his wife, Erin, have been married since 2008 and have three children.