Summary: This message is from a series that looks at God's desire for us to live life in a way that avoids being overloaded and overextended.
Busyness and productivity are values that seem to be held high in our culture. In fact, these values are looked on quite favorably in the church. We often live as though busyness is next to Godliness. Dr. J. Grant Howard describes our culture this way, “Some people can’t say no. They enroll in too many courses, hold down too many jobs, volunteer for too many tasks, make too many appointments, serve on too many committees, have too many friends. They are trying to be all things to all people all at once all by themselves.” When we get so busy it is really easy for us to lose our focus on the things that are the most important. This seems to be the issue that Martha is struggling with. Duties and demands had the ability to rob us of our peace and joy. Even in the church this can happen. We can get so busy doing what we perceive as being God’s work that we lose sight of Jesus. Mary and Martha’s experience with Jesus provides us a timeless lesson in regard to what is really important. Many times we need to simply reevaluate our lives and priorities and make some much needed adjustments. More than that, there are just those times that we need to chill out and breathe and get everything back into proper perspective.
I. We are a people that are consumed by worry and what we perceive as urgent responsibilities.
A. Jesus’ arrival in Bethany obviously caused both joy and anxiety as He and His disciples become guests at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
1. Hospitality was extremely important in the ancient Jewish culture and Martha is obviously intent on being a proper host.
2. A proper host would make sure that the guests were very comfortable. The guests would have their feet washed and there would be a meal prepared.
3. One has to wonder if Martha is intent on doing extra things for Jesus because it seems like Martha is actually overdoing it.
4. How would you react if you knew Jesus was coming over after church? Would you go through more trouble for Jesus then you would for other guests?
5. Unfortunately it seems that Martha is working so hard that see becomes distracted and stressed.
6. Martha is obviously out of sorts and unable to enjoy her guests. In fact, she is missing the whole reason for Jesus’ visit.
7. The Greek word periespato is used for distracted and it implies that Martha’s attention was drawn away by the burden of her work.
B. The majority of us allow the culture to draw us into living extremely busy lives to the point that it is extremely hard to focus our attention on what is really important.
1. Studies have shown that when we do two tasks at the same time we take about thirty percent of our attention off the primary task.
2. Whenever two people meet in today’s society the odds say that one or the other will mention how busy they are.
3. In 1950 we had on average ten activities to choose from, today as a result of progress we have a thousand on average. Things are even more complicated because most of these activities are either fun or worthy of our time.
4. The culture has convinced us that activity is all that counts and anything else is nothing more than laziness.
5. As Americans we have the tendency to equate the will of God with busyness but God is interested in both sides of the equation.
6. God created both activity and rest in fact He commends both of them. So to live within the bounds of His will requires a balance of both.
II. When we become overloaded by our busyness inevitably our priorities will get all out of order.
A. When Martha became all bent out of shape over Mary’s choice of activities one can see that her priorities are out of order.
1. The only thing Martha could she was more work that needed to be done and Mary leaving her to do it all by herself.
2. We need to take notice of the fact the Jesus does acknowledge Martha’s frustration but one has to believe that Jesus’ response was not what she was expecting.
3. Jesus is teaching Martha the importance of learning to choose between good things and the best things.
4. Jesus is showing that life is full of tough choices and for busy people such as Martha these choices are extremely difficult and can produce a lot of anxiety.
5. There was nothing wrong with Martha’s desire to serve but it literally consumed her.
6. Mary is taking advantage of a rare opportunity for a woman in the ancient Jewish culture.