Summary: With the story of Mary and Martha, God teaches us spiritual priorities.
About seventy years ago a fascinating interview took place between a Mr. Charles Schwab, then president of Bethlehem Steel Company, and Ivy Lee a motivational speaker and self-help advisor. Lee was a confident, aggressive man who through perseverance had acquired this interview with Schwab, one of the most powerful men in the world. During the conversation, Lee proposed that if Schwab would follow his advice, the entire company would become more prosperous.
Schwab answered: “If you can show me a way to be able to accomplish more with the time I have, it’ll be my pleasure to listen. In fact, if it works, I’ll pay you whatever you ask within reason.”
So Lee gave Schwab a blank piece of paper and told him: “Write down the most important things that you have to do tomorrow.”
Schwab did so.
“Now,” Lee continued, “number them according to their importance.”
Again Schwab obliged.
“Tomorrow morning, start with number one. Then go on to number two and so forth... Don’t worry if you haven’t completed the list by the end of the day. At least you will have accomplished the most important projects. Do this every day. Afterwards, if you are convinced of its value, have your men follow the same system. Test it for as long as you would like, and then send me a check for what you think this advice was worth.”
The two men shook hands and Lee left the president’s office. A few weeks later, Charles Schwab sent Ivy Lee a check for $25,000, an astronomical figure in those days. He said it was the best lesson he had ever learned in his long career in business.
En the cold world of business there are few things as important for success as setting priorities and living according to them. This is no less true in our spiritual lives. And so this morning we are going to talk about priorities. We are going to see that according to Jesus, there is only one thing necessary and that he wants us to live in that one thing. So let’s see that one thing necessary by reading our text for this morning as it is found in Luke chapter 10...
I. The one thing necessary
In the movie “City Slickers”, Billy Crystal plays a man who is completely disillusioned with his life. And so his friends take him on an adventure to a cattle ranch to “rediscover his smile.” At the ranch, Crystal’s character meets the cattle boss, a tough and hornery cowboy, a man of few words. During their adventure, the cattle boss tells Crystal that to find happiness, you need only one thing... but then he died before he could tell him what that one thing was.
Here in the text for this morning, Christ tells us that there is only one thing needful. But he never says explicitly what that one thing is. But if we look closely at the story in our text for this morning, I bettcha we can figure out what that one thing is.
A woman named Martha had invited our Lord to eat at her house. But while she was getting everything ready, her sister Mary sat down at Jesus’ feet to listen to what he said. There it is. The one thing that we need. Mary chose to listen to God’s Word. God’s Word is the one thing needful.
But why is God’s Word so important? Well, mainly because it tells us who we are. In this world, it’s a special person who really knows him or herself. It’s hard for us to look honestly at ourselves in the mirror. The world is full of people who think that they are “all that” when they really aren’t. And at the other extreme, there are many people who suffer from low self-esteem, anorexia, bolemia who do not see who they really are when they look in the mirror. But the Bible, God’s Word, helps us to know ourselves better. When we look into the mirror of God’s Word, first of all we see that we are people with very poor priorities. Jesus tells us that we should seek first the Kingdom of God, or in other words, that God and his Word should be priority number one in our lives. But in our daily life, what place does God really have? If what we do during the day reflects our priorities, where does that leave God? Do you set aside time each day to study and meditate on God’s Word? Do you thank him every morning for the new day that he has given you, for your family, for your house, for your work? Do you have family devotions? Do you even talk with your family about God? In your conversations with co-workers, friends, classmates, do your mention that God is important to you? Sadly even I as a pastor cannot answer very well these questions. We are people of very poor priorities. And due to our choices in life, we deserve God’s punishment.