Martha, Mary and Lazarus were two sisters and a brother that lived in the town of Bethany which was approximately two miles from Jerusalem. Jesus apparently stopped at their house occasionally when He came to Jerusalem and grew to love the family members. This was the Lazarus who became ill and died and Jesus raised him from the dead as described in John chapter 11. I want us to consider the following story in the life of this family. Jesus and his disciples came to Martha’s house. Luke 10:38-42 “Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’”
Brothers and sisters in a family can have very different personalities. In this case, Martha was the owner of the house and she offered to give hospitality to Jesus and His disciples. Therefore, she was very busy preparing the meal for her guests which would have been a small crowd. She was a server and felt the responsibility of getting everything prepared in a timely manner for Jesus and His disciples. She was doing a good work. But her sister Mary was interested in listening to what Jesus had to say. He was likely teaching about the kingdom of God and explaining spiritual principles and it was important to Mary to hear these things. Martha was burdened with all the necessary preparations and she looked at her sister Mary who was not helping her but instead was sitting at the feet of Jesus taking in all that He had to say. Martha needed help, so she approached Jesus, explained her problem, and asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Martha thought that Jesus would sympathize with her and get Mary to help. But she was wrong. While serving Jesus and his disciples was a good work, the more important thing was understanding the spiritual matters that He was teaching; since Mary was interested in His teaching, and that was more important, Jesus was not going to take that away from her.
This leads me to ask, “What are the more important things in life?” What should our priorities be? It is obviously important to provide food and clothing and shelter for our families. The apostle Paul taught Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” But Jesus taught us that it is even more important to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Matthew 6:31-33 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” It is not that providing food, clothing and shelter are not important. I believe that we are taught that it is more important to first seek the things that lead to eternal life and the other less important things will fall into place.
The Israelites were commanded to give to the Lord the first fruits of their produce and cattle. Even the firstborn son was dedicated to the Lord. Exodus 22:29-30 “You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. Likewise you shall do with your oxen and your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.” The priority was to give the Lord the first of everything. Solomon gave the following instruction in Proverbs 3:9-10 “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” The promise was that God would bless them if they honored the Lord and put Him first. Many people seem to have the priority of taking care of themselves first and then giving to the Lord whatever is left over; with that priority, the Lord is often neglected.
Many people also seem to make it a priority in their life to obtain earthly possessions and wealth. Consider the following parable given by Jesus. Luke 12:16-21 “Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.’” Life is short and we don’t know when it will end for us. It is more important to be rich toward God than to store up treasure in this life for yourself.
My encouragement to you is to put the things of God first in your life. That could be your time, your possessions, and the path of your life. Give priority to God.