Summary: In Prioritizing the Word of God, we must be : 1) Devoted to the Best (Luke 10:38-39), without settling for and being: 2) Distracted from the Good (Luke 10:40-42).
The word “priority” is a commonly used one today. Books and seminars purporting to teach people how get their lives in order by understanding and setting their priorities abound. As people’s lives become more frenetic, frantic, disjointed, and disconnected, they battle to stay focused on what should be their priorities. A priority is by definition a matter that ranks above all others in importance. Balancing work and reflection is tricky. Most people in Western cultures often have schedules that are full of “good” activity, labor that has merit. One of the demands of a full schedule is that the activity be prioritized. Some things come high on the list; others must wait. Sometimes priorities have to be shuffled at the last minute to meet needs. The account of Martha and Mary is about such priorities, especially when the options are good ones (Bock, D. L. (1994). Luke. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Lk 10:38). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.).
The record of the interplay between Mary and Martha in Luke 10, is a story about priorities. It is unique, in that it appears nowhere else in the Gospels. Despite its brevity, it occupies an important place in the flow of Luke’s gospel and conveys an essential truth by revealing the highest priority of the Christian life, that of loving God. It makes a fitting follow-up to the story of the Good Samaritan, which stressed the importance of loving one’s neighbor as evidence of loving God. The good Samaritan is an example of active doing; Mary is an example of quiet listening. Martha is very busy serving her neighbor, but what she is doing is not so essential as what Mary is doing. A service that bypasses the Word is one that will never have lasting character. The example of Mary correctly shows that hearing God’s Word must be our first priority (Prange, V. H. (1988). Luke. The People’s Bible (p. 127). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Pub. House.).
In presenting the truth to our Neighbors, the story of Mary and Martha, is a great example of priorities and warning of what is good to share and do can displace what is best to share and do. The story of Mary and Martha is about the necessity of the priority of the Word of God in a life of active service for the Master. In fact, the teachings of Jesus were dramatically actualized in both women’s lives. Both are women of excellence and noble character (Hughes, R. K. (1998). Luke: that you may know the truth. Preaching the Word (pp. 394–395). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.).
In presenting the truth to our Neighbors, we are to be:
1) Devoted to the Best (Luke 10:38-39)
Luke 10:38-39 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. (ESV)