“One thing at a time, and that done well, is a very good rule, as many can tell.” This was regarded as a formula for success in the good old days. But we now live in an age of multi-tasking and we usually indulge in doing two or more things simultaneously. Like watching television at dinnertime. Or talking on the cellphone while driving. Perhaps reading a book with headphones playing music into our ears. We may be doing this purposefully to maximize the use of the limited time we have at our disposal. We may also be attempting to live several parallel lives within the one life that God has given us. However, these profound objectives are generally not in our thoughts. It is just that we cannot concentrate on one thing at a time and we get carried away towards another.
Temptation takes many forms. We may be physically or emotionally attracted by a person, or be lured by money, or develop a lust for power. Temptation is something that we are aware of, and if we try hard we can possibly overcome it. But distraction is different. It comes quietly and unknowingly. Even as my eyes remain on the tv screen, my fingers are pressing the keys on the remote in search of a more entertaining channel. While I listen to a speaker at a conference, my eyes wander around the more interesting things in the hall and outside. If my mobile beeps while I am asleep, I have the urge to open that new message, only to find that it is not important!
In the long run, doing several things at a time may in fact be unproductive or even turn dangerous. It is important for us to concentrate on the work that we do, take pleasure in it, and do it honestly. It is necessary for us to define our goals and focus on them.
Sin is usually defined as breaking God’s laws, but to explain the concept of sin, the Bible uses many other words like transgression, trespass, offence, iniquity, debt, and so on. Put simply, sin means missing the target, or being where one should not be, or doing what one should not be doing. Sin means not seizing opportunities, not using our talents, not doing what we are capable of. St Paul summarizes it elegantly in the Bible in his letter to the Romans. (Romans 7:4-26).
Today’s world offers so many alternatives to the Christian life. Each one seems to be more attractive than the other. Each one takes us further away from God. So we better be careful and guard ourselves against the danger of distraction.