John T. Willis

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Struggles with Priorities--Luke 10:38-42

After encountering the lawyer declaring the Parable of the Merciful Samaritan, Jesus moved closer to Jerusalem and came to the house of Martha. This is related in Luke 10:38-42. Like the entire Bible, Luke focuses on God through Jesus Christ. This paragraph deals with three individuals: Jesus, Martha, and Mary. Each person in this story has a significant function. The fundamental issue is struggling with priorities. Let us examine each individual in this story. I. Martha: a good woman distracted. a. John 11:1; 12:1-3 (see Luke 19:29) says that Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, lived in Bethany, a village near Jerusalem. When Jesus came to Bethany, Martha "welcomed" him into her house. Martha was very hospitable. Undoubtedly, she washed Jesus' feet (see Genesis 18:1-8; 19:1-3; Luke 7:44-46) and tried to make Jesus feel at home and comfortable. All Christians should feel and act like Martha in treating all other people. See Hebrews 13:2; 1 Timothy 3:2; 5:9-10; Titus 1:8. 10:38. b. Martha was a hard worker. In fact, she was a "workaholic." God encourages all human beings to work hard. That is a very important aspect of life. Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12; 2 Thessalonians 3;6-15; Proverbs 31:10-31; 1 Timothy 5:11-15. 10:40. c. Martha was very concerned to provide for Jesus' physical needs. She was disturbed because her sister Mary was not helping her to make all the preparations necessary to honor and serve Jesus. It is very important to provide for the needs of others. Matthew 25:31-46; James 2:15-16. 10:40. d. But Martha had a major weakness: she was "distracted" from the most important thing in life by her "much serving," by the "many things" she felt like she had to do. A major human problem in serving the Lord is that of not having enought spiritual strength to say NO to things which are good and fine in and of themselves in order to concentrate on the one person in life who makes all the difference--Jesus Christ our Lord. Human history is filled with examples of individuals who set out on a worthy task, never to finish it because they allowed themselves to be distracted by other good, but lesser goals. One must make a decision to choose between what is GOOD and what is BEST. Martha makes a good choice, but not the best choice. 10:40-41. II. Mary, a wise chooser. a. Unlike Martha, Mary had the ability to choose the very best out of several good alternatives. She chose to sit at Jesus' feet and hear his teaching. Learning from God through Jesus through his word is the primary need in the life of any individual because God's teaching is good for the soul and without it we cannot grow spiritually (Psalm 19:7-11; Matthew 4:4; John 6:35, 66-69; Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Peter 2:2), one is being still and listening to God, not talking; and reflecting on and meditating of God's proclamations, nature, and mighty acts (Psalm 1:1-2; Joshua 1:8; Acts 17:10-11). 10:39. b. Mary did not retaliate when her sister Martha criticized her, but left all this up to Jesus. If a person becomes a serious student and follower of the word of God, others will criticize that person. Others will claim that person is a bookworm, not spending enough time with other people. But the Bible requires that a truly follower of God through Jesus Christ must meditate on God's word day and night. Many churches suffer tremendously because they simply do not know the word of God. It is so easy for all Christians to be distracted by everything and everyone else in life and not focus on God throught Jesus Christ as instructed in the Bible. 10:40-41. c. Mary chose the "one thing," the "better part" needful in human life. The Bible often commends those who have the ability to choose the one most important thing in life: Psalm 27:4-6; Philippians 3:13-14; Matthew 13:44-46.10:42. III. Jesus attempted to help Martha and Mary by struggling with the problem of priorities. a. Jesus tried to calm the anxieties and troubles of the heart of Martha. Martha was too self-centered, even though she did not realize this. It is not wrong to be anxious, but it is wrong to be anxious about people and things which count for little or nothing (see Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 12:29-31; 2 Corinthians 11:28; Philippians 4:4-7). b. Martha was anxious because her priorities were wrong. She was more concerned about material things than about spiritual relationship with Jesus. Jesus urged Martha not to be mastered by things, but to master things. (See Isaiah 55:2). 10:41. c. Martha was wasting her time because she should have been taking this golden opportunity to listen to Jesus rather than preparing an elaborate meal. See Ephesians 5:15-16. d. Jesus praised Mary for choosing the one thing which was most needful for her, something which would go with her throughout life, a personal relationship with Jesus which grew out of listening to his teaching. 10:42. Yes, it is very difficult to make good choices, to select the best priorities. This text in Luke 10:38-42 is very helpful. Let us all listen to this message from God. Share YOUR opportunities and struggles and realizations with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis b.


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