Stress - Getting Things in Order

Luke 10:38-42

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, "Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me."

41 But the Lord said to her, "My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! 42 There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it--and I won't take it away from her." NLT

This message was preached February 23, 2003 at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at ToulonBaptist.com

As we stated last week, the things that bring on stress are very real and we will never be free of them in this life. Financial problems, relational problems or defiance of a loved one, medical conditions, persecution etc. are often sources of stress for the Christian.

Our story today though illustrates that not all stress is legitimate. Sometimes we bring stress on our selves. The stress is just as real as if the threat was real.

Today we hope that we can help you sort things out that ought to bring us concern from those that should not. A certain amount of stress in our lives has very little foundation. It is either imagined or manufactured. We must first deal with the false causes of stress before we can move on to the real ones.

  1. Martha
    1. She was overly concerned about the non-essentials.
      1. It all begins well I am sure that she was quite happy that she could do such a wonderful thing - to prepare a meal, but in the process things began to go wrong as they often do. She became frustrated when she realized she had bitten off more than she could chew. Frustration worked into stress and then she saw Mary as the cause of her problem. Not only Mary but Jesus and the disciples. She accused Jesus of not caring that she was working at an impossible task and Mary not helping.
      2. Eventually she is disturbed. Lit. "dragging all around." The expression implies that Martha was in a tumult. with much serving. Martha was evidently fussing about with details that were unnecessarily elaborate. The MacArthur Study Bible
      3. Many people major on the minor things in life.
      4. Luke 12:29 And don't worry about food--what to eat and drink. Don't worry whether God will provide it for you. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of most people, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. NLT
      5. John 6:26 Jesus replied, "The truth is, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you saw the miraculous sign. 27 But you shouldn't be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that I, the Son of Man, can give you. For God the Father has sent me for that very purpose." NLT
      6. Matt 6:25 "So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not. NLT
      7. I like one fo the shows on TV called Monk because this guy is always so stressed. He can't ouch anything in public for fear of germs. He can't eat at most restaurants unless he brings his own plastic eating utensils from home. He is so stressed that he can hardly function. In the show he has lost his job and has to have a personal assistant with him at all time to do the things that he just cannot bring himself to do.
      8. As someone said, "Don't sweat the small things."
      9. Some people forget that you can re-mop the floor, grow more new grass etc.
      10. As I read in a book once. The man said I decided that we were going to raise children and not grass in our back yard.
      11. When you get stressed you need to back away and look at it from a friend's perspective - does this deserve stress or are you being too sensitive.
    2. She was stressed that everyone else did not see things her way.
      1. This is a major cause of stress.
      2. You are upset and you think everyone should be as upset as you are.
      3. You must always consider the possibility that everyone else has got a handle on this and you do not.
    3. She has set unrealistic goals - to feed everyone a grand meal.
      1. People who set unrealistic goals may be great achievers but they are also people who are often stressed.
      2. Many pastors do this. I heard one once talk about going to school, pastoring the church, trying to spend some time with the family, ministering to the needs of the congregation and wondering why God had called him to such an impossible task. He finally came to the view that it was not God who had called him to that type of life. He decided that he himself was the main problem for trying to work 70-80 hours a week to get it all done.
    4. Oneness is needful in opposition to distractions. Matthew Henry
      1. Jesus was in the house but Martha was distracted.
      2. Jesus was giving the bread of life but Martha was concerned about a big meal for 15 or more people.
  2. Mary
    1. Relational - Worship
      1. It was not that Mary was not concerned about service or sacrifice.
      2. She was the one who anointed Jesus' feet with the ointment worth a years wages.
      3. But Mary's first concern is relational not service.
      4. what we do with Christ is far more important than what we do for Christ, Few things are as damaging to the Christian life as trying to work for Christ without taking time to commune with Christ. Warren Wiersbe
      5. 1 Cor. 7:35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible. NLT
    2. She knew how to get quite
      1. To relax
      2. To listen
      3. To be ministered to.
    3. Mary had chosen the best, the one thing needful.
      1. One thing: This can be explained in two ways here. Jesus may be saying that only one simple dish is required for a meal; Martha can handle the preparations without Mary's help. In this case Martha is being primarily rebuked. Or Jesus may by one thing refer to the spiritual nourishment craved by Mary. In this case Jesus is implying that Martha, too, should leave her housework for a time and concentrate on a more urgent matter. King James Version Study Bible
      2. Luke 18:18 Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: "Good teacher, what should I do to get eternal life?"

19 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus asked him. "Only God is truly good. 20 But as for your question, you know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.' "

21 The man replied, "I've obeyed all these commandments since I was a child."

22 "There is still one thing you lack," Jesus said. "Sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." 23 But when the man heard this, he became sad because he was very rich. NLT

  1. Psa 27:4 The one thing I ask of the Lord--the thing I seek most--is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord's perfections and meditating in his Temple. NLT
  2. needful. Ec 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. NKJ
  3. Ec 12:13 After all this, there is only one thing to say: have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that human beings were created for. TEV
  4. Mt 6:31 "So don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. 32 Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, 33 and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. NLT
  5. Matt 16:25 If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. 26 And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul? NLT
  1. But we must realize that both Mary & Martha were needful.
    1. A Church full of Marys would perhaps be as great an evil as a Church full of Marthas. Both are needed, each to be the complement of the other. Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, A.R.; and Brown, David, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
    2. There is no right or wrong in this. God did not make everyone alike. One person may pray,

"Lord of all pots and pans and things,

Since I've no time to be

A saint by doing lovely things,

Or watching late with thee,

Or dreaming in the dawnlight,

Or storming heaven's gates,

Make me a saint by getting meals

And washing up the plates."

Barclay

 

Careful (see 1 Cor. 7:32-35) often indicates a this-worldly, unbelieving attitude that hinders proper attention to the things of God; that is, to be unduly concerned about secondary matters.(1)

No wonder Martha was "distracted [literally, drawn away] with much serving" (10:40). She could not sit and chat with her guests if she was to prepare the food.(2)

He was in no way setting up a dichotomy between the sacred and the secular, but merely emphasizing that in the midst of her busyness, Martha should not lose sight of who He was and why He had come. Without question, Mary had that insight, and Jesus was keen to preserve it.(3)

chosen the good of two good ways of serving and pleasing the Lord, choosing the better. Wherein, then, was Mary's better than Martha's? Hear what follows.(4)

We often chose the good in preference of the best. We are often satisfied with the good when God intends for us the best.

not be taken away--Martha's choice would be taken from her, for her services would die with her; Mary's never, being spiritual and eternal. Both were true-hearted disciples, but the one was absorbed in the higher, the other in the lower of two ways of honoring their common Lord. Yet neither despised, or would willingly neglect, the other's occupation. The one represents the contemplative, the other the active style of the Christian character. A Church full of Marys would perhaps be as great an evil as a Church full of Marthas. Both are needed, each to be the complement of the other.(5)

They show us the clash of temperaments. We have never allowed enough for the place of temperament in religion. Some people are naturally dynamos of activity; others are naturally quiet. It is hard for the active person to understand the person who sits and contemplates. And the person who is devoted to quiet times and meditation is apt to look down on the person who would rather be active.

# There is no right or wrong in this. God did not make everyone alike. One person may pray,

"Lord of all pots and pans and things,

Since I've no time to be

A saint by doing lovely things,

Or watching late with thee,

Or dreaming in the dawnlight,

Or storming heaven's gates,

Make me a saint by getting meals

And washing up the plates."

# Another may sit with folded hands and mind intense to think and pray. Both are serving God. God needs his Marys and his Marthas, too. Barclay

 

Title: Adam Clarkes Commentary on the New Testament

Author: Clarke, Adam

Mary hath chosen a good portion; that is, she avails herself of the present
opportunity to hear my teaching, and inform herself in those things which are
essential to the salvation of the soul. I cannot, therefore, order her to leave my
teaching, to serve in what I know to be an unnecessary service, however kindly
designed: for it would be as unjust to deprive her of this bread of life, after which
she so earnestly hungers, as to deprive thee, or thy guests, of that measure of
common food necessary to sustain life. All earthly portions are perishing: "Meats
for the belly, and the belly for meats, but God will destroy both it and then; but
the work of the Lord abideth for ever;" her portion, therefore, shall not be taken
away from her.

From this interesting narrative we learn:

1. That the cares of this life are dangerous, even when they seem to be most lawful and commendable. Nothing of a worldly nature could have been more proper than to provide for the Lord Jesus and supply his wants. Yet even "for this," because it too much engrossed her mind, the Lord Jesus gently reproved Martha. So a care for our families may be the means of our neglecting religion and losing our souls.

2. It is of more importance to attend to the instructions of the Lord Jesus than to be engaged in the affairs of the world. The one will abide forever; the other will be but for a little time.

3. There "are" times when it is proper to suspend worldly employments, and to attend to the affairs of the soul. It "was" proper for Mary to do it. It would have been proper for Martha to have done it. It "is" proper for all on the Sabbath and at other occasional seasons-seasons of prayer and for searching the word of God-to suspend worldly concerns and to attend to religion.

4. If attention to religion be omitted at "the proper time," it will always be omitted. If Mary had neglected to hear Jesus "then," she might never have heard him.

5. Piety is the chief thing needed. Other things will perish. We shall soon die. All that we can gain we must leave. But the "soul" will live. There is a judgment-seat; there is a heaven; there is a hell; and "all" that is needful to prepare us to die, and to make us happy forever, is to be a friend of Jesus, and to listen to his teaching.

(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Title: Warren Wiersbes Be Series: NT

Author: Wiersbe, Warren W.

Worship is at the heart of all that we are and all that we do in the Christian
life. It is important that we be busy ambassadors, taking the message of the
Gospel to lost souls. It is also essential to be merciful Samaritans, seeking to help
exploited and hurting people who need God's mercy. But before we can
represent Christ as we should, or imitate Him in our caring ministry, we must
spend time with Him and learn from Him. We must "take time to be holy."

Mary and Martha are often contrasted as though each believer must make a
choice: be a worker like Martha or a worshiper like Mary. Certainly our
personalities and gifts are different, but that does not mean that the Christian life
is an either/or situation. Charles Wesley said it perfectly in one of his hymns:

Faithful to my Lord's commands,

I still would choose the better part;

Serve with careful Martha's hands,

And loving Mary's heart.

It seems evident that the Lord wants each of us to imitate Mary in our
worship and Martha in our work. Blessed are the balanced!

Consider Martha's situation. She received Jesus into her home and then
neglected Him as she prepared an elaborate meal that He did not need! Certainly
a meal was in order, but what we do with Christ is far more important than what
we do
for Christ. Again, it is not an either/or situation; it is a matter of balance.
Mary had done her share of the work in the kitchen and then had gone to "feed"
on the Lord's teachings. Martha felt neglected after Mary left the kitchen, and
she began to complain and to suggest that neither the Lord nor Mary really cared!

Few things are as damaging to the Christian life as trying to work for Christ
without taking time to commune with Christ.
"For without Me ye can do
nothing" (John 15:5). Mary chose the better part, the part that could not be taken
from her. She knew that she could not live "by bread alone" (Matt. 4:4).

The key is to have the right priorities: Jesus Christ first, then others, then
ourselves. It is vitally important that we spend time "at the feet of Jesus" every
single day, letting Him share His Word with us. The most important part of the
Christian life is the part that only God sees. Unless we meet Christ personally
and privately each day, we will soon end up like Martha: busy but not blessed.

Often in my pastoral ministry, I have asked people with serious problems,
"Tell me about your devotional life." The usual response has been an
embarrassed look, a bowed head, and the quiet confession, "I stopped reading my
Bible and praying a long time ago." And they wondered why they had problems!

We are ambassadors, neighbors, and worshipers, these three; and the greatest
of these is worshipers.

 

1. 1Thomas Nelson, Inc., King James Version Study Bible [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1988 by Liberty University.

2. 2Thomas Nelson, Inc., Word in Life study Bible [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

3. 3Thomas Nelson, Inc., Word in Life study Bible [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

4. 4Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, A.R.; and Brown, David, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1998.

5. 5Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, A.R.; and Brown, David, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1998.