This week’s money and stewardship devotional from the four Gospels* is from Luke 10:38-42 about focusing on what is important in life.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 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!”Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Several women have told me they don’t care for these verses, they contend that Jesus should have rallied all the guests and they should have helped Martha, then they could have enjoyed the meal and Jesus together. I respect this point of view, but am imagining that Martha in this verse is a lot like Martha Stewart is today. To do things like Martha Stewart; plan everything to the nth degree from designing the invitations, 7-course meal, and hand made table cloth and center-piece. If you are inviting some friends over, be sure not forget to landscape the front lawn and flower beds, light the scented candle in the guest bathroom, immaculately clean your home, and do it all in time to shower and apply fresh make-up. Exhausting isn’t it?
In modern America, especially in suburbia, this example of entertaining extends to almost everything. We definitely have complicated lives with the More (n.) lifestyle. We have bought into the More philosophy; more means better, and if you have less, you are less. More living applies to more cars, or constantly better cars as we make more money. Bigger and better houses, as well as better decorations, landscaping, and patios. The concept of more is not just material objects, it applies to activities. More and better vacations, restaurants, entertainment, and hobbies. Schedules can get pretty full doing, planning, traveling and posting about them on Facebook. This extends to our children’s lives, of constant activity, entertainment, sports, school, lessons and being SUV’d to the next activity.
I think Jesus was talking to Martha and the group about all of the things we fill our lives with, purchase, and worry about. Americans are anxious about many things, we push Jesus into the margin of life. We go broke financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually pursuing more. It is not wonder we are often lack peace and joy for most of the day, and are stressed, worry and are anxious about many things. Could this contribute to debt and living paycheck-to-paycheck? Reading Matthew 6:25-27, Matthew 6:34, and Philippians 4:6, we know we shouldn’t worry, but it is hard not to.
Maybe we can learn from this encounter with Martha and Jesus, and focus on Jesus as he tells us what to do in that verse; for some of us it may mean cutting back on the things that we fill our lives buying, doing and maintaining. This is the truth, and this brings freedom from the things that bind us (ref. John 8:32).
*A chronological examination of any verse that involves money and stewardship, attempting to see the new light that Jesus shines on money in His ‘for-us’ but selfless, grace filled, Holy Spirit empowered, and Kingdom oriented positions. This is the thirty eighth post in this series.