No matter what, you are all in with life. You can’t stop the clock. There’s no pause button. Every day, you are spending the resources God has given you. Whether you are sitting alone on your coach, traveling the world with a group of friends, or you are serving those in need, God will judge you on how you are spending the life he has given you.
2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” Perhaps the biggest distraction that will causes us to waste our lives and miss God’s purpose is other people.
Therefore, here are three signs God is saying, “Remove that person. They are a distraction.”
1. If a Person Is Pulling You Away from the Presence of God Rather than Pushing You Towards the Presence of God, God Is Saying, “Remove This Distraction”
God doesn’t want any of us to live as an island. So we must never see “relationships” in general as “a distraction.” God wants us to be in healthy relationships, and the mark of a healthy human relationship is one that benefits your relationship with God.
In fact, this is the criteria for how God wants his people to either choose a life of singleness or a life of marriage. In 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, Paul writes:
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”
If you were to read this passage out of context, you might conclude that Paul wants all Christians to pursue singleness because all romantic relationships are simply a distraction. But this is not at all what Paul was teaching here. Rather, his point was that singleness is better for those who can serve God better in singleness; but marriage is better for those who can serve God better in marriage (1 Corinthians 7:2, 7). This is why he also said in 1 Corinthians 7:
But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none.” (1 Corinthians 7:28-29)
Paul would never tell a married man or woman to neglect their spouse (Ephesians 5:21-33, 1 Corinthians 7:1-5). So when he said that each spouse should live like that they had no spouse, he was saying that even married people should be fully devoted to the Lord just like single people are. His main point was not singleness or marriage but to have “undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:35). And to do this, you must be equally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14).
God wants you with someone if that person is helping and not hurting your walk with God. If this person is dividing your devotion to God, they are a distraction and God wants you to remove them. The person God has for you will increase your passion for God, not decrease it (2 Timothy 2:22, 1 Peter 3:7, Hebrews 10:24).
2. If You Are Serving This Person in a Way that Usurps Your Attention on Christ, God Is Saying, “Remove This Distraction”
Many people say marriage is a ministry. I don’t believe that. I believe marriage is meant to be a partnership (1 Peter 3:7). Ministry is when you focus on sacrificially giving to someone in need. You don’t take or receive from the person you are ministering to. This is why we can minister to atheists, God-haters, and lovers of sin. If we were taking from them as you do in a mutual relationship, this would be a temptation. But you can minister to these people because you are simply giving to them and not taking.
This is why I don’t believe marriage is a ministry. You are not just giving to your spouse. You are also taking from your spouse. It’s a partnership of both giving and taking. When one person in the relationship is truly a ministry for the other person, the person ministering will be become empty and misused. Yes, you must serve the person you are in a relationship with, but it has to be mutual or else you are getting taken advantage of in this relationship.
You can see this principle played out in Luke 10:38-41. Mary is sitting at Jesus’s feet. She did often serve Jesus (John 12:3), but now she was also receiving from Jesus. She had a real relationship with her Lord. But Martha was just giving. It says:
But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:40-42).
Likewise, there are people in this world who want you to act like Martha towards them. They want you to ignore Jesus and just serve them. Service is good, but like Martha, if we are choosing to serve someone or something over being in a true relationship with Jesus, this is not what God wants for us.
Anything that has replaced Jesus in our hearts, even service, is an idol.
3. If This Person Is a Weight That Is Slowing You Down and Pulling You Into Sin, God Is Saying, “Remove This Distraction”
Life is a marathon. Every day God has called us to run towards him. One day the race will be over. Thus, with the time we have, we must remove anything that might hinder our run for God. As Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) states:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
If someone is tempting you into sin and acting like a weight during your race, it’s time to cut them free. They are a distraction and God wants you to remove them.