Martha had company coming. Not just any company – it was Jesus! She had food to prepare, a house to clean, and serving to do. After all, is it not God’s will for women to be hospitable (1 Peter 4:9) and to be “keepers of the home” (Titus 2:5)? Yet, while Jesus visited in her home on this occasion, he didn’t praise Martha for all her hard work. Instead, he gently rebuked Martha by saying, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:38-42).
Martha was about to be taught a lesson in priorities. Serving others is a good thing, yet sitting at the feet of Jesus, as Martha’s sister Mary had chosen, was better. Like Martha, we all have times when we get distracted by things of lesser importance than time with the Lord.
I identify with Paul in Romans 7:15 when he said (and I paraphrase), I don’t know what in the world I’m doing! I don’t do what I’m supposed to do and then I do what I’m not supposed to do! Well, I’m right there with him. I know that I need to spend more time with the Lord and develop a closer relationship with Him, but frequently I don’t seem to get it done. There are just so many distractions!
Consider with me what some of those distractions may be:
- Media & Entertainment – Do we ever go a day (even an hour) without time spent on social media, phone, computer, or television? Do we spend large amounts of time on sports, hobbies, or exercise? Assuming choices in entertainment and activities are “wholesome” (Philippians 4:8), how much time are we spending on them? Do we ever sit-down planning to check something quickly, but find ourselves an hour later still in front of the screen? While entertainment may not be “bad” in the immoral sense of the word, it may be as the Psalmist describes as “worthless” (Psalm 119:37).
- Materialism – We would think that poor people in third-world countries would be consumed with wanting more, yet we, who are living in abundance, seem to be on a never-ending quest for more things. We want houses with square footage that doubles the average house in the 1950’s with lots of extra storage. When our houses are filled, we rent storage units to take care of the overflow! Beware of greed (Luke 12:15). Life is about much more than the things we own. When we set our eyes on possessions, our eyes are off God.
- Family/Relationships – I recently saw a sign in Hobby Lobby that said, “Family First.” Really? Jesus said if we love our family more than Him, we aren’t worthy of Him (Matthew 10:37). Have we known of Christian women who miss church services to spend time in an activity with a non-Christian spouse? Do we know families who have children in so many extra-curricular activities that there is little time or energy left for church activities? Do we know someone in an unscriptural marriage who chooses to remain in adultery rather than obey God? Do we know people with family members who have gone astray and continue the relationship as if nothing is wrong because, after all, “they’re family?” Family isn’t first. God is!
- Worldliness – Christians are called out of the world into a different kind of life, yet the world has increasingly entered into the lives of Christians. There are Christians who see inappropriate movies, who read trashy books, who dress immodestly, who “like” inappropriate things on Facebook, and who use sexual innuendos in their speech. Being conformed to this world will distract us from Godliness (Romans 12:2; James 4:4).
- Busyness – In Martha’s case, she didn’t recognize that her serving and busyness were distractions until Jesus pointed out that those things weren’t as important as she had thought. Like Martha, we get so busy doing “lesser” things that we end up squeezing God in when we have downtime. When we’ve done everything else on our to-do list, we remember that we haven’t spent time with God or His word throughout the day (Ephesians 5:16). We must prioritize that “to-do” list and never get so busy that we are distracted from spending time with the Lord.
- Ourselves – Sometimes we become distanced from God because we are prideful and selfish. We believe that God wants us to be “happy,” when in reality what God really wants is for us to be “holy.” We become self-focused rather than looking to the needs of others (Philippians 2:4). When we become full of self, there is no room left for God.
I know that I get distracted and let distance come between myself and God more often than I care to admit. I am prone to focus on the lesser things and leave the important things undone. Yes, my name is Martha!