The Blessing of the Bronze Medal – What is Your Focus On?
“37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:
“Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”[
39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them.”[
41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.
42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.”
John 12:37-43 NIV
I read recently about a research study done by Vicki Medvec, a professor at Northwestern University. After studying Olympic medalists, she discovered that on the whole, Bronze medalists were happier than Silver medalists. They were more content. It seems odd, but here’s why. Medvec found that Silver medalists tended to focus on how close they came to winning gold and as a result, they weren’t satisfied with their Silver medal performance. Bronze medalists on the other hand, tended to focus on how close they came to not winning a medal at all so they were just happy to be on the medal stand.
It revealed the importance of our focus. Our focus determines our attitudes and approach to life. This study shows that how we feel is NOT determined by objective circumstances. If that was the case, Silver Medalists would be much happier people than Bronze medalists because they had an achieved the better result. But how we feel isn’t determined by our circumstances. How we feel and the attitudes we carry is determined by our focus.
Maybe it can be restated best this way. My internal focus and attitudes are more important than my external circumstances.
John identifies in this passage that it is hard for some people to believe in the Christ despite all of the great things He had done because their internal focus was more important than their external circumstances. They focused on what God had not yet done, more than on what He had already accomplished. Even though God does great things right before them, they could not see it because of their own attitudes and focus.
Others wanted to believe in the Christ, but would not proclaim it because they feared how that confession would impact their public image. They teach about whether it is possible to be a secret follower of Jesus. It is possible temporarily. Either their secrecy will drown out their faith, or their faith will drown out the secrecy. Their focus will eventually dictate their direction.
If I focus on what others say about me I will feel either ungodly pride or unjustified inadequacy…if I focus on what God says about me I will feel appreciated and thankful.
If I focus on what the world says I will constantly change my mind to agree with those around me…if I focus on what God says I can life a live based with consistent conviction rather than passing convenience.
If I focus on what the world says is valuable I will waste my life pursuing things I don’t need to impress people I don’t like…if I focus on what God says is valuable I will invest my life in God and people, and that will last for eternity.
If I focus on what the world says about the church I will see it as irrelevant or boring…if I focus on what God says about His church, I will honor His bride and treat her with great honor and respect.
If I focus on what the world says about problems I will constantly be filled with worry, anxiety, and stress…if I focus on what God says about my problems I will see them as nothing more than opportunities to know Him more intimately and to see Him more clearly.
If I focus on my past I will live in total defeat…if I focus on my potential in Christ I will live in total victory.
If I focus on the here and now I have no urgency to share the Gospel…if I focus on eternity I will do all that I can to share the Gospel with those I love and care for because people need to know Jesus!
Lord Jesus renew my focus to be on You. Lord teach me to always set my eyes, my heart, and my focus on You and Your Kingdom. Amen.