"All right, Petrovich," said the guard, "what have you got there?" "Oh, just sawdust and shavings," Petrovich replied.
"Come on," the guard said, "I wasn't born yesterday. Tip it out." And out came nothing but sawdust and shavings. So he was allowed to put it all back again and go home. When the same thing happened every night of the week the guard became frustrated. Finally, his curiosity overcame his frustration.
"Petrovich," he said, "I know you. Tell me what you're smuggling out of here, and I'll let you go." "Wheelbarrows, my friend," said Petrovich, "wheelbarrows."
This illustration reminds me of how easily humans can be distracted by the trivial. Petrovich took advantage of this characteristic to conduct his thievery. The guard, understandably, thought the hidden contents were of value, until he learned it was just waste product from the factory. He didn't think for a moment about the wheelbarrow that was doing the hauling! However, had Petrovich tried to haul an empty wheelbarrow away from the factory, he would have been caught immediately, no doubt.
The devil sometimes works in much the same way as this thief did. He distracts us in various ways and consequently blinds us to the truth! For example, any Christian with even an elementary understanding of the Scriptures knows that adultery is wrong. However, when a co-worker starts flirting with you, it seems innocent enough to flirt back. But, one thing can easily lead to another over a period of time and eventually adultery may be committed. A Christian who would never agree to commit sexual immorality if asked outright by a stranger, may nevertheless wind up engaging in this form of wickedness with a co-worker or friend. Why? Because he or she is obviously not thinking properly; the devil has distracted them by slowly moving the relationship to this end. To a God-fearing individual, adultery is an obvious sin (like pushing an empty wheelbarrow out of a factory to one's home is obvious theft). But, flirting seems so innocent, and the final consequence of it is easily disguised (like the deceptive sack of sawdust on the wheelbarrow).
Let me share another example of Satan's distractions, but this case will be more general in application. Materialism is a deceptive scourge upon many today. The devil enslaves many with a materialistic spirit, and they are blind to this sin in their lives. The fundamental purpose of money and any other material blessing the Lord provides is that we use them to accomplish good works, always being "ready to give, willing to share" (I Tim. 6:18). However, Satan labors to distract us to fall into the temptation of desiring to be rich. He tries to squeeze us into thinking like the world does about money (namely, to trust in it instead of the Lord). Some who are worth millions of dollars live miserable lives, never satisfied or content (cf. I Tim. 6:9,10). All they want is more! They've allowed the devil to deceive them. Others, however, who are not afflicted with the love of money or material things, can more easily see the bountiful blessings God has bestowed upon them. They are full of gratitude and good works.
II Corinthians 4:18 reads - "We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." Dear friends, those who are wise will focus on that which is spiritual and eternal. Do not allow the devil to distract you from the things that are really important! Be wise enough to see where your actions and attitude will lead you. Don't be fooled or distracted into concentrating on something that is eternally worthless (like money, possessions, or fame) when the devil is laboring to rob you of your soul's salvation!