As I continue to think about this “one thing”, I am aware that there are many things that fight for my attention. On any given day, I can be bombarded with thousands of advertisements, phones calls, text messages, and interruptions.
In the Tale of Two Sisters, Martha and Mary from Luke 10:38-42, it’s quite easy to see that Martha was distracted from the one thing that was essential. Her dissatisfaction and irritation revealed how the many things had affected her. Not being focused on one things seems to have that affect, taking us to deeper levels of insecurity and insanity.
Not all distractions are bad however. In fact, many things that distract us are “amoral”. As is the case with Martha, cooking, cleaning and having guests over is not a bad thing. It became “bad” when she allowed it to distract her from the best thing. We have all heard it said that the enemy of the best is what’s good.
Here are a couple of thoughts on what was bothering Martha.
The Bible says that she had become distracted by all the preparations. I can only assume this meant from the cooking and getting a meal together for Jesus and His disciples. There’s nothing wrong with Martha wanting to serve them a meal but it was getting in the way for her fellowship and relationship with Christ. Many times I can become victim of overcommitment. This leads me to frustration and anger. I want to do the very best I can but when I am overcommitted, nothing gets done well and there is very little joy. Joy is the key to service. We are told in the scripture to serve the Lord gladness and enter into His courts with praise. This is not what Martha did, she came into His presence with complaining. Can you imagine inviting Jesus to come over for dinner and then complaining that His presence has made your life difficult?
Martha could have easily prevented some of this by being prepared ahead of time. Sure there are times when people drop by unannounced but this was not the case. She invited Him over. Simplifying our lives and focusing ahead of time on what we need and want to do will allow us to serve and minister with joy. Making preparations with time, finances, and people keeps me able to be focused rightly on the Lord. Prepare in advance.
Martha thought Mary not helping her was the problem. However, it wasn’t. The problem was Martha’s focus. She was focused on the wrong thing. In leadership and life, it’s important to make sure I see the problem correctly. Often it’s easy to blame others or the wrong thing than to realize I am missing the point. The point with any circumstance, issue or problem that arises is God’s glory. In this case, Martha was concerned about her own glory with a great meal and being a good hostess. Whereas Jesus was interested in people sitting and listening to Him. Jesus wants to be the center of attention not my works, my service, my goals.
When a problem arises it can distract us from the main thing but it doesn’t have to. In many cases, a problem arises because I am already distracted from the main thing! Martha’s problem was a result of her wrong focus. She had created this problem. By reducing our focus to one thing and in this case, one person Jesus, all-of-a-sudden, it’s quite clear; make sandwiches for everyone, forget the 4 course meal.
I’ve certainly heard this many times and felt it often too: “Ministry would be great if it weren’t for the people”. As with any profession, business, or organization, people can be viewed as interruptions and distractions sometimes. From phone calls to texts, to drop-ins and meetings, people can make progress difficult. The great thing about Jesus was that He always seemed to have time for people. He was always gracious when called upon by others, when people invaded His space, or even when people crucified Him! How was this possible? His focus was one thing: relationship with us.
When I understand that the focus of my life needs to be a relationship with Christ, I change my view of how I deal with people. Yes, there are people who are distractions. However, there are many times when I have been extremely blessed by an “interruption” of a person who called or dropped in. The point is that I have to make preparations to meet with the Lord early, that way when the day gets rolling, I can take every encounter with anyone else as a blessing and not a distraction. When I set my focus on relationship with Christ as exemplified in others, people are not just “used” by me to get something done. The relationship and fellowship we enjoy is enjoyed together with Christ. How wonderful would it have been for Martha and Mary to be able to share those intimate moments with the Lord as sisters?
When I am attuned to the Lord, I am not looking at preparing, problems or people wrongly. Instead, I allow these things to shape my day and my life. By remaining focused on the Lord and keeping Him as my number one priority, I can see what things not only are secondary but completely worthless. I can see what things need to have my attention and what needs to go. I can ultimately view everything else with an eternal worldview and allow that one thing to rule all others.