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Martha, Martha, Martha!

In Luke 10, we find the story of a woman who was spending too much time in the wrong quadrant…

Martha was a good woman.  She loved the Lord and strived to give Him her very best.  It so happened that one day Jesus was traveling through her village, and she jumped at the opportunity to invite Him over for dinner.  What an honor to have the God of the universe as a guest in her home!  She was ecstatic!

Now Martha strikes me as one who probably kept her house pretty clean.  She probably loved to entertain and had her house already in order and her pantries stocked with food.  But if Martha was like me, even with everything in order, she probably rushed to get home before Jesus arrived to do some last-minute dusting.

Jesus arrived at Martha’s house, and she’s already busy cooking up a feast.  She’s got 12 pots in the fire, and she’s busy dusting off the fine china and polishing the silverware.  She wants everything to be perfect!  And who wouldn’t?  It’s Jesus!
But here’s where the problem comes in.  You see, all this time, Martha’s sister Mary hasn’t lifted a finger.  She hasn’t asked to see if Martha needed help.  She didn’t stop to pick up her shoes off the floor when she came in the house.  She didn’t even offer to get Jesus something to drink!

Let’s enter the story in verse 40.  “But Martha was distracted with much serving,” it says, “and she approached Jesus and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Tell her help me!’”

Now, I want you to notice Jesus’ response, because it is important.  Jesus does not rebuke Martha for serving.  He’s not ungrateful.  He doesn’t tell her that she’s doing too much.  He doesn’t say that He isn’t blessed by her sacrifice or by her desire to give God her best.  Instead He says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.”

The issue wasn’t Martha’s acts of service.  Rather, it was the priority those acts took over God Himself.  Martha had given greater value to the gift than to the One she was giving to.  She was worried and troubled about details (Quadrant 3 & 4 stuff).  Mary had chosen what was really important.  She is the one who truly gave her best, because she knew that her best didn’t lie in giving God her service, but in giving God herself.

Martha could have served the Lord from a place where Jesus Himself was her priority.  And yes, Mary could probably have picked her shoes up off the floor.  But Jesus knew this wasn’t the real issue.  He wasn’t concerned with those trivial things.  He was concerned for the sisters’ hearts.  So maybe Martha couldn’t have ordered take-out back then, but I somehow don’t think that Jesus would have been disappointed with leftovers and paper plates, so long as it meant he could have Martha’s heart.

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