Summary: When we focus on listening to Jesus, our priorities will be in proper order.

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Title: Are Your Priorities Out-of-Whack?

Text: Luke 10:38-42

Thesis: When we focus on listening to Jesus, our priorities will be in proper order.


I don’t know if this is a true story or not, but I suspect it is true, in that it was printed in a book by Steve Farrar titled, Standing Tall: How a Man Can Protect His Family.

Dr. Robert Shuller was on a whirlwind book promotion tour in which he was visiting eight cities in four days. He was keeping an exhausting schedule in addition to maintaining his duties as pastor of what we now know as The Crystal Cathedral. As he was going over his itinerary, his secretary reminded him that when they returned home, he was scheduled to have lunch with the winner of a charity raffle in which someone had paid $500 dollars for the privilege of sharing that lunch with the Dr.. He was quite pleased that his presence was so highly valued, until he learned that it was his own daughter who had paid $500 for his “undivided” attention.

Sometimes our priorities are out-of-whack.

In our story today, it was Martha’s sense of duty that was out-of-whack.

I. Duty is a good thing. We like duty.

Martha welcomed them into her home… and worried over the big dinner she was preparing. Luke 10:38 and 40

What do we know about Martha?

• Martha had two siblings, Mary and Lazarus. (John 11)

• Martha was loved by Jesus. (John 11)

• Martha prepared and served a dinner in Jesus’ honor shortly before his death. (John 12)

• Martha owned her own home. (Luke 10:38)

• Martha was a lavish host. (Luke 10:40)

I don’t know if you are a proponent of the birth order theory or not… but, Alfred Adler, a contemporary of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung was one of the first to argue that birth order leaves an indelible impression on an individual. He believed that children have distinct personality traits that are directly related to their order of birth in a family.

Martha was the oldest of three children… Firstborns are typically believed to be serious, conscientious, directive, goal-oriented, aggressive, rule-conscious, exacting, conservative, organized, RESPONSIBLE, jealous, fearful, high achieving, competitive, high in self-esteeem, and anxious. They may learn the concept of power at a young age, and this can be expressed in their desire to help, protect and lead others. (Wikipedia on Birth Order)

• Martha was very responsible! Martha was duty-bound! Martha was the conscientious one! She was so responsible that she was distracted from everything else.

To be distracted is to be drawn away or dragged away…

Sometimes you hear a person who is so absorbed in an activity or event or relationship that they may say, “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away.” The image of something or someone being drug away is what comes to mind when we reflect on this story. The elaborate preparations for dinner got hold of Martha and drug her away from her guests.

We love the Marthas and their male counterparts. They are the doers without whom nothing would get done in our homes, in the marketplace, in church, or wherever.

In our story we have a second sister whose name is Mary. And, in our story we readily juxtapose Martha and Mary. We place them side by side and we compare and/or contrast them. The opposite of Martha, is Mary.

Mary is known and admired as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

II. Devotion is also a good thing… we admire devotion.

Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. Luke 10:39

What do we know about Mary?

• Mary had two siblings… a sister, Martha and a brother, Lazarus. (John 11)

• Mary was also loved by Jesus. (John 11)

• Mary likely lived with her sister and brother in Bethany…

• Mary was very expressive in her devotion to Jesus having poured a 12 ounce bottle of expensive perfume over Jesus’ feet during the afore mentioned dinner Martha served the week before his trial and crucifixion. (John 12)

• Mary sat at the feet of Jesus as a disciple sits before his or her teacher. (Luke 10:39) She did not sit at his side, which would have been a seat of honor, but she sat at his feet, a seat of humility… she took the seat of the learner.

• Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, basking in his presence and feasting on his every word. She listened…

While on vacation last week (Monday, July 9, 2007), I watched

the Baseball All-Star Homerun Derby held at A T & T Stadium, home of the San Francisco Giants, with our grandson, Zach. Our own Matt Holiday of the Colorado Rockies, hit 13 homeruns, but was bested by the California Angels’, Vladimir Guerrero who hit 17 homeruns.

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