NOTE: The following is heavily structured on a recent sermon by Pastor Carlos Sibley at Watkinsville First Baptist Church
Martha and Mary
Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42, NASB)
Distracted driving is defined as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Every year, approximately 421,000 people are injured in automobile crashes involving distracted drivers. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed from such accidents. More than three-fourths of these drivers were distracted because they were texting while driving. Therefore, it may be an understatement to say that—when driving—the compulsion to check our phones can cause serious harm upon others, as it distracts us from the much more important and immediate task.
Were the texts or calls that these distracted drivers received inherently bad? No. Should their texts or calls have been prioritized ahead of driving—staying focused on the road? Again, no…
Our lives are full of distractions. Many of these things are good things, but not all of these things warrant immediate response; hence, why they’re referred to as distractions. What is it that distractions keep us from accomplishing? Distractions keep us from that which should have been prioritized.
For Christians, prioritization should be placed on the eternal rather than the temporal. Yet, how often do the fleeting and eternally inconsequential things of this world (like immediately checking text messages) take our attention from those matters that are more eternally meaningful? How often do we become anxious about the less pressing and much less important matters we face on a daily basis?
Consider the underlying message of Jesus’ interaction with Martha. Martha is busy with good things—she is being a good host, preparing a meal for her beloved guests. But she is anxious about her preparations. She is worried about many things. Her sister, Mary, is worried about one thing. That which is eternal and much more important: the teaching of Jesus. As a disciple, she is resting at the feet of her Rabbi—her Lord. There is a reason that Jesus answers Martha by saying, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42, NASB).
In that moment, Martha is distracted. She is prioritizing the temporal over the eternal. While she is doing something good by preparing a meal for her guests, she shouldn’t pull her sister away from their Rabbi.
How many of us confuse priorities, and encourage others to join us in our confusion? How many of us allow temporal distractions to keep us from eternally resting at the feet of Jesus? And how many of us—particularly, those of us who profess Christ—pull others away from the feet of Jesus?
If answering the above questions in the negative, then my brothers and sisters, our next question should be: How do we prioritize our walk with Christ? What can we do to regularly find ourselves resting at the feet of Jesus? And how do encourage others to join us at His feet?
Here are three ways in which we can prioritize our walk with Christ:
1) Daily Devotion. Throughout Judeo-Christian history, God’s people have been encouraged to practice daily, set prayer. We can see such practice first mentioned in the Old Testament. The Psalms mention morning (Psalm 5:3), early hour (Psalm 130:6), and evening (Psalm 141:2) prayer—prayer both day and night (Psalm 92:2). Daniel—a Christ-figure in the bible—was known to pray to God three times a day with gratitude (Daniel 6:10).
In the New Testament, this emphasis of incorporating prayer as a daily and regular practice (Acts 1:14) can also be seen. Jesus and His disciples were recorded praying in solitude, in synagogues, and at the Temple. Some prayers had set times (Acts 3:1), and believers were encouraged to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Matthew 7:7-12; Ephesians 6:18), showing praise and gratitude to the Lord.
Why is daily prayer and devotion important?
- Gives us an opportunity to intentionally share our life with God (e.g. James 4:8)
- Gives us the chance to express our gratitude for His provision (e.g. Psalm 9:1)
- Provides us a platform for confessing sin and asking repentance (e.g. Psalm 32:5)
- Represents an act of worship and obedience (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
- Acknowledges our Lord’s sovereignty, and our submission (e.g. 1 Chronicles 29:11)
To summarize, prayer is the best way to communicate with God. And with any relationship, constant and healthy communication is essential.
2) Weekly Worship. The practice of Sabbath is rooted in God’s rest on the seventh day of creation. It’s a day of joyful rest, where the Lord’s followers are to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8). The day should be considered a gift and blessing—not a burden—with Christ emphasizing, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:2, NASB).
Celebrating the Sabbath through communal worship also helps reinforce our identity in Christ. Worshiping our Lord collectively; reinforcing what we believe together. Sabbath worship serves as a re-calibration, helping us begin each week with a proper focus:
- We’re afforded rest
- We’re rejuvenated giving Him praise and worship in the presence of other believers
- We’re pulled away from life’s constant distraction to more clearly see our Lord’s eternal plan
Most importantly, it places Him first; encouraging us to listen to the Holy Spirit rather than worldly deceptions and our rebellious hearts.
3) Consistent Community. The importance of community is emphasized in scripture. The book of Acts focuses on the early Church and its close-knit community. Residing in a fallen world that’s immersed in sin, it’s essential to have other convicted Christians in our lives. When Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest, He replied:
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40, NASB).
Why are these two commandments always intertwined (see Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-28)? My thought is that we’re incapable of demonstrating love for our Lord, when we’re incapable of demonstrating love for others. With our Triune God exemplifying perfect relationship, God’s followers should strive to emulate His Holy, Trinity relationship. Christians are to be Holy (i.e. set apart), as He is Holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). This is why I believe Jesus says, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20, NASB).
I mean, think about it. How do we exhibit His holiness in isolation, absent relationship? For love to be exhibited, there must be others upon which it’s extolled. There’s a reason that He tells His disciples, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35, NASB). Scripture reinforces this need for healthy community with other believers:
…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25, NASB).
Strong, invested Christian community helps keep us accountable to our beliefs. Such community encourages us to do good; serving and loving others in accordance to God’s Word, through the Holy Spirit.
Should our daily devotion occur constantly? Should our worship be ongoing? Should there be intentionality within every aspect of our lives?
God’s Word is to be our sole focus. His voice is the one that we must hear through the world’s deceptions. We must allow it to change our hearts (Ezekiel 36:26; Psalm 51:10; Romans 2:29) and renew our minds (Romans 12:1-2). Being in Christ (2 Cor 5:17)—taking up our crosses daily (Matthew 16:24-26; Luke 9:23; Galatians 2:20)—we love God with discernment and faithful obedience (John 14:21).
And by engaging in daily devotion, weekly worship, and consistent community, we’re encouraged to live in His Word, through the Holy Spirit; keeping ourselves focused in the presence of worldly distractions.