Undivided Attention


Burned toast. Yes, I did it again. I burned a piece of delicious sourdough. I took the time to buy a fresh loaf, store it properly, pick the best slice, and use my elongated toaster purchased just for these longer slices. I had the right tools and the right intention, so how did I burn it, and why does it happen so often? Divided attention. I push the lever down and do something else while it’s toasting—dishes, laundry, feeding the dog, returning an email, or preparing lunchboxes. My attention is quickly divided and no longer focused. Some days I get all that done and enjoy an unburned piece of toast, but it requires more attention on my part.

  • Where is your attention?


32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 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. 35 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.

36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.

39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.


  1. Why did Paul say he was providing these instructions (vss. 32, 35)?
  2. What did Paul say was the benefit of remaining single? In contrast, how did Paul describe the downside of being married?
  3. How did Paul describe the eventual outcome for those who chose to marry? Why did Paul think that a widow would be happier remaining single rather than remarrying?
  4. What are modern-day, “worldly things” that divide the attention of married couples? If you are married, in what ways is your walk with God distracted by the influences and pressures of the modern world?
  5. If you are single, how does remaining single benefit your commitment to kingdom work? Conversely, in what ways do feel the need to respond to any pressures to get married?


Paul wrote this passage from his perspective as a single man devoted to the Lord. His intent was not to restrain anyone, only to benefit us by helping us free ourselves from anxiety. His ultimate goal was to secure our undivided attention to the Lord. Of course, Paul was not implying that a follower of Christ must be single to be wholly devoted to God; to interpret his words in such a way would require one to view the illustration used to make a point as more important than the point itself. Whether married or single, Paul encouraged us to secure our undivided devotion to the Lord.

  • Ask God to reveal areas of your life where your attention and devotion may be on worldly things in place of him.
  • Pray for God to reveal ways in which you can make adjustments that will help make him first in your life, so you can give him your undivided attention.