Summary: Choosing what is best is often counter-intuitive. Christians are responsible to choose what is best.

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“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said. But Martha was distracted with all the preparations she had to make, so she came up to him and said, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work alone? Tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.’” [1], [2]

A saying frequently heard among the faithful living in the southern United States asserts, “Good is enemy of the best.” It is a pointed way of saying that it is possible to settle for what is good while sacrificing what is best. Settling for what is good, though less than the best, means that we are willing to accept what is inferior. In our text, we have the account of Jesus arriving at a home where he was to be entertained. Two sisters lived in this home—one sister was eager to honour the Master through providing the expected hospitality; the other sister seized the opportunity afforded by Jesus’ presence to spend time listening to the Master. One of the sisters was commended for choosing what was best; the other was tacitly rebuked for choosing what was less important.

Charles Hummel penned a booklet that popularised a phrase that was known among Christians, though not used as often as it should have been. The title of the book in question was “Tyranny of the Urgent.” [3] The booklet addressed the common failure to prioritise needs in our lives. Our lives are invaded by urgent needs. Dinner is interrupted by the incessant ringing of the phone; we feel compelled to answer because it might be important. So, we set aside the important need for family time enjoying conversation and a meal to answer the urgent. We elevate the urgent over the important. Energy and vital resources are consumed by the urgent.

I contend that it is a feature of contemporary Christian life that we routinely choose the good at the expense of the best. We are doing undoubtedly doing “good” things, delivering “good” messages, living “good” lives; however, we are not choosing what is best. The message this evening is designed to challenge us to review the choices we make and the manner in which we conduct our lives in order to discover what is best and to encourage those who hear to do that which is best.

One of the dark sayings Jesus delivered to those who thought to follow Him is that cautioning against presuming that doing good things will suffice to merit His commendation. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” [MATTHEW 7:21-23]. How shocked many will be in that day! Indeed, Jesus says those appealing to their goodness will be many! Yet, they are deceived.

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