February 13 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 10)

Submitted by Eunice K. from Gracepoint Riverside Church
• Distracted
The text describes Martha as “distracted,” and Jesus goes on to say that she is “worried and upset about many things.” This gives us a deeper look into Martha’s distraction. She is distracted not simply because she has many tasks to do, but because she is worried and upset about those tasks. Jesus implies that Martha has made a certain choice, which was the lesser choice compared to what Mary had chosen.

What Martha had chosen caused her to be primarily worried about and focused on the tasks involved in being a good host. Jesus’ words make me think about the choice I have in my perspective on life. My perspective on my life- on what I have to do, on what is urgent, on what is worrisome and upsetting, is not necessarily undisputed reality. I realize that I just assume that my perspective, and the emotions that follow, are a true reflection of reality and therefore others ought to acknowledge and bend to it. But Jesus is saying that there are choices in perspective, and there are those that are better, or more true to reality and more aligned with God’s perspective. So before I insist on my perspective and demand that others yield to my feelings and priorities, I need to consider whether my choice of perspective is what Jesus would say is the better one. When I am called to account for the kind of perspective I choose to have, then I am forced to think about the desires behind my perspective. So often it’s my plain selfishness and desire for selfish gain that forms my perspective. Because I want to feel like I am in control and on top of things, I find that I focus on how others are getting in the way of my agenda, or causing me to have to change my schedule. Or, because I want to feel like I’m a good minister, I find that I want to focus on whether I appear like a good minister to others, instead of actually focusing on the kind of sacrificial ministry of loving my neighbor that is in need, that Jesus calls me to do.

• Don’t you care
It would have been a lot of work to host 13 hungry men and who knows how many others who were with them. Martha is a generous woman to open her home to them. But what is interesting is that her probably very sincere desire to serve Jesus and his disciples quickly turns into an attitude of self-pity, bitterness, and even anger towards not only Mary, but Jesus as well. Her feelings come out in an accusation, “don’t you care..,?”, and a demand, “Tell her…!” Just seeing this picture of this accusatory and demanding person is piercing for me. I know that many times I have had this kind of attitude, whether it comes out in words or in the way I feel inside. I know how quickly I can slide from the desire to serve God to feelings of being overwhelmed, frustration, accusation, blame, or self-pity. This is sure evidence of my sinful nature that overtakes even my best intentions.

Interestingly, Jesus leaves it to us to think about what is that “one thing” that is needed. It would seem easier if Jesus had just told us all, “All you need to do in such a situation is to focus on _____.” But he doesn’t do that and gives us this picture of Mary instead, sitting at his feet and quietly listening to him. The lesson I see here for me is that when I am feeling upset and worried, it’s a sure sign that I need to take some time to pause, make the time and space for myself to listen to what Jesus has to say to me. If I did this, I would save myself and those around me from my sinful heart spilling over into complaints, bitterness or self-focus. One thing I realize from this text is that Jesus knew what was going on inside of Martha. So I can be reassured that Jesus knows what is going on inside of me and can address me. I can honestly confess what is going on inside, because it’s no surprise to him. This is something I experience time and time again. When I actually bring to Jesus the various worries and upsetting things on my mind, Jesus can speak into those situations and give me fresh wisdom, a different perspective that helps me move forward, and often a reminder of the basic truths of the gospel – who I am, who God is, how we are all sinners in need of the gospel, and how Jesus meets our need in so many different ways. And it’s these reminders that are what really changes my perspective and refreshes my heart so that I realize I don’t have to react with bitterness or complaints.

Pastor Ed and Kelly made the long drive to So Cal to attend Phil Chen’s dad’s funeral, as well as to spend some time with the San Diego and Riverside teams. They did Bible study with us and shared some wisdom about what to do when we start feeling tired as we try to serve God and build his church here. One main thing they talked about was the need to return back to the basic gospel and our first love with God. This was such a timely message of encouragement and challenge for our teams, and for me personally. I am reminded through today’s text that in those times when I feel worried and upset about many things, it’s a chance for me to actually come back to the feet of Jesus and receive fresh words from him that can address what is going on inside of me. I can’t fix those wrong emotions and attitude on my own. I know, because I have failed many, many times to do so. As much as I wish I was not like Martha, I know I am. But I know what I can do the next time I feel like Martha – to receive Jesus’ invitation to choose what is better, to pause and listen to what He has to say to me.
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Submitted by Jasper C. from Gracepoint Riverside Church
After reading through this brief passage, I noticed that my initial “gut reaction” is that I’m somewhat surprised by the ending. Up through verse 41 everything feels normal and predictable, but when Jesus weighs in with his response to the situation between Mary and Martha, His siding with Mary somewhat catches me off-guard. At first I feel as though Martha’s reaction to her lazy sister Mary, who’s just sitting there while Martha herself is running around taking care of all the preparations that had to be made, seems to be quite reasonable and justified. It appears as if Mary doesn’t understand, she’s lacking the maturity to see that having Jesus over isn’t just a matter of letting him into the house but that there’s all these things you have to do to properly host somebody important in your house. Then in v.41 when Jesus throws in his judgment of the situation in favor of Mary, it catches me off guard. “What? Well, I guess Jesus must be taking into consideration a completely different set of factors when assessing this situation between Martha and Mary.” It’s probably not the case that what Martha is doing is flat out wrong, after all she’s just being a responsible host and trying to show Jesus hospitality by making sure that he’s got a comfortable accommodations, something to eat and tea to drink. Jesus himself doesn’t say that Martha has chosen the wrong thing, only that Mary has chosen what is better. It comes down to a matter of priorities, and I guess here Martha fails to recognize that the most important thing that she can do at this moment is to relate with Jesus by spending time with Him rather than running around serving him.

I think that one particular point that I can draw from the text today centers around the “many things” that Martha was worried and upset when all that was actually needed was for her to simply relate with Jesus. It says that Martha was busy with all the preparations that had to be made, but chances are these are things like cleaning or making some food to serve Jesus – important tasks of course, but they don’t have to be made, especially when the tradeoff is time spent directly with Jesus. Similarly, I realize that in my own Christian life I sometimes become worried and upset, or at least flustered, in a very Martha-like way in the sense that I get caught up in the “many things” that come with serving Jesus in my context, things like carrying out all the activities that we have as a ministry, tasks, roles that I have in our church. It’s not always, but sometimes these things pile up quickly especially during a busy time like fall outreach – and it’s at those times in which I find myself spending less time with Jesus just because it’s busy – I’m more distracted during DT’s, don’t spend as much time in prayer throughout the week. However, isn’t this making the same mistake that Martha is making? I recognize that when this happens in my life, it’s akin to losing sight of that one thing that is needed, which is to relate with Jesus – for the main way that Jesus speaks to me and addresses my life is through his words in the Bible, which is why DT is important, and through regular prayer time. When I’m fully engaged in prayer and DT, making that a priority above all other things in my schedule, that would be my way of “choosing what is better,” which is to in my heart assume the Mary-like posture listening attentively to what Jesus is saying.
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Submitted by Joel L from Gracepoint Riverside
Bible Text
Luke 10:38-41
At the Home of Martha and Mary
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed.a Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Luke 10:38-40
• Reflect on the scene of Martha, doing so much but feeling bitter and resentful toward everyone. What could Martha have done differently?
Martha could have looked at the situation with a different perspective rather than feel bitter and resentful toward everyone. If she was getting worried about the preparations, she could have asked her sister for some help, but instead we see Martha complaining to Jesus. Another approach Martha could have taken was to have the perspective that she gets to do something loving for Jesus and his disciples, and this loving attitude would supply her with the strength to do the hard work. Love doesn’t calculate time, energy, suffering, and effort, but it endures and gives.

•Have I experienced resentment that I am doing some thankless task “by myself”?
I have experienced many times of resentment doing thankless tasks at work “by myself”. Resentment for me often comes in situations like this where I have to do extra work or take on some task that wasn’t created by me but it was due to someone’s laziness and selfishness. The first couple of times may be tolerable, but when it happens over and over again with signs all around the sink asking for people to wash their dishes, it gets pretty difficult to not get bothered.

Luke 10:41
•What does Martha’s bitterness reveal about her priorities?
Martha’s bitterness reveals that her priorities are on herself. It could be the case that she is worried about being labeled as a bad host. She wants all the preparations to be done in a certain way and at a certain time, and if it’s not turning out that way, she expects others to take notice and care about what she is doing.

•What can we learn about the difference between Martha’s and Jesus’ evaluation of Mary’s priorities?
From the difference between Martha’s and Jesus’ evaluation of Mary’s priorities, we can learn that what’s going on in the heart gets expressed through the priorities we think others should have as well as ourselves. What concerns us or what we value may be different than what God values and we need to be mindful of the “lens” we are looking through.

•What is the “one thing” Jesus is referring to?
The “one thing” Jesus is referring to is a relationship with him, Jesus Christ.

•What are the “many things” in my life that distract me from focusing on my relationship with God?
The “many things” in my life that distract me from focusing on my relationship with God often are related to security and comfort. There is the temptation to strive for security in how I am viewed by others, whether it be at church, around family, or at work. It’s doing battle against comparing myself with others, seeking respect, or desiring advancement in my career. Seeking comfort distracts me in that I focus too much on what frustrates me, and I don’t want to love and care for others, because I want to be happy first. The combination of these “many things” causes me to react emotionally in a negative way and it’s during these times where I reflect on what’s going in my heart, and I find that it’s because I’m not thinking about my relationship with God and trying to please Him. I am hungering for love or something to feed my pride rather than doing the simple task of focusing on God and having a loving response. In being painfully honest with myself, I come to find that these desires are not really important, and I can let them go, and when this happens, the word of God and times of prayer have greater impact because my mind and heart are not distracted with “many things”. When it comes to being busy with tasks and responsibilities, I’m no longer thinking about myself but I am thinking that I’m living before God, and what I am doing is helpful for others, and I’m able to have that perspective of noticing needs around me.

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