04 October 2010

Good and Best

I am posting this as additional material for the monthly newsletter I send out for Engage Women's Ministry of Freedom Christian.

taken from
Jesus: 90 Days With the One and Only
by Beth Moore

Luke 10:38-42 (New International Version)
"38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
41 'Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'"

This passage is not a contrast between good and bad. It's a contrast between good and better. Martha was a good woman. Jesus loved her very much, apron and all, as confirmed in John 11:5 - "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus." Her joy and satisfaction, however, were sacrificed on the altar of self-appointed service. Recognizing Martha's positives and negatives, let's explore some applications together.

1.) Martha opened her home, but Mary opened her heart (vv. 38-39). Don't miss the fact that Martha opened her home to Jesus. Not Lazarus, the head of the house. Nor Mary, the depth of the house. It was the "hands" of the house that invited Jesus in. Otherwise, Mary wouldn't have had a set of feet at which to sit, nor would Lazarus have had a friend with which to recline. Martha's hospitality brought Him there. If only Martha had understood that Christ wanted her heart more than He wanted her home.

2.) Distraction is the noble person's biggest hindrance to listening (vv. 39-40) Martha wasn't stopping her ears and refusing to listen. She was simply "distracted." In this way, we've all been Marthas! How many times have we reached the car after a church service only to realize we missed half the message due to distraction?

Now imagine that the church service was meeting in your den while you were preparing lunch! Talk about distracting? The Greek word for "distracted" in verse 40 is perispao, meaning "to draw different ways at the same time, hence to distract with cares and responsibilities." Can we relate? You see, our culture may be entirely different, but women have had the same challenges since the beginning of time.

3.) Sometimes ministry can be the biggest distraction to the pursuit of true intimacy with God (v. 40) I've heard the saying many times, "If Satan can't make us bad, he'll make us busy." Actually, he can't make us anything, but he gets a lot of cooperation. I am reminded our our study on the good Samaritan. ow wise of our God to place these two accounts back-to-back in Scripture. First we saw an incriminating look at servants of God who ministered in the the temple but refused to help a dying man. Now we catch a look at a servant who was so busy helping, she couldn't hear from the heart of God.

4.) Martha forgot to keep the "pre" in preparation (v. 40) Understand that the preparations she made were not frivolous. They were important! By doing them, Martha served Christ appropriately and enhanced the atmosphere in which He taught. Very likely she served a meal and made sure all the arrangements were made for His comfort and the exercise of His own ministry. These preparations were important. They just weren't limited to the "pre." The issue is that she continued all her duties when the time came to sit at Christ's feet and listen.

I speak at many conferences during which the event's leadership either never makes it into the sanctuary or, when they do, they never lose that harried and distracted look. Recently, however, I spoke at a conference where the leadership was truly the most participatory, involved group during the Bible study. When I inquired later, they said, "Oh, we worked really hard in advance to get everything finished so we could relax when the time came." They made all the preparations, but when the time came, the men of the church and several hired caterers served while they attended. What wisdom we fin in keeping the "pre" in preparation!

5.) Those distracted by service are often those who miss how much Jesus cares (v. 40) I have a feeling if someone had asked Mary at the end of the day if Christ cared about her, she would have answered affirmatively without hesitation. But Martha came to Christ and asked, "Don't you care?"

Beloved, Christ's love for us never changes. However, our sense of His loving care can change dramatically from time to time. And I believe the determining factor in whether we sense His love or not is our willingness to abide in Him, to seek to practice a relationship in which we develop a keener sense of His presence.

Sometimes we are so shocked when a seasoned servant of God confesses that he or she is struggling with belief and awareness of God's loving care. We might think, "You of all people! You are such a wonderful servant of God. How can you doubt for a moment how much He cares for you?" Could it be that somehow service has distracted them from abundant, life-giving intimacy? Don't neglect to give Him ample opportunities to lavish you with the love H always feels for you.

6.) Many things are important, but only one thing is necessary (v. 42) In our fight for right priorities, many things vie for the top of the heap, but only one is necessary. Ultimately, our relationship with Christ is the one thing we cannot do without. Christ's message is not that we should neglect family and other responsibilities to pray and to study the Bible. His message is that many things are important, but one thing is essential: Him. Incidentally, Mary turned out to be one of the greatest servants of all, lavishing Christ with her most expensive offerings (see John 12). She learned. So can we.

What are the main choices standing between you and a more consistent experience of living by God's best priorities, not merely settling for good ones?

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