An elementary teacher was helping one of her kindergarten students get his cowboy boots on before leaving for home. He had asked her for help and she could see why. Even with her pulling and pushing, the boots just did not want to fit all the way – they seemed too small. She persisted and by the time she got the second boot on, she had worked up a sweat. She almost cried when the little boy said, “These are on the wrong feet.”
You know how boots can sometimes be hard to tell – so she looked closely and sure enough, they were. She tugged and pulled and finally pulled the boots off. She managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots back on the right feet. Finally, just as she was finished, he said, “You know, these aren’t my boots.”
She bit her tongue rather than scream. Once again she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off his little feet. No sooner had they gotten the boots off, he said, “See, they’re my brother’s boots, but my mom said I could wear ‘em.”
She did not know if she should laugh or cry, but she mustered up what patience she had left to wrestle the boots back on his feet one more time. Finally, she finished. Helping him into his coat, she asked, “Now, where are your gloves?”
He said, “I stuffed ‘em in the toes of my boots.”
In two years, she will be eligible for parole (Stephen Davey’s sermon True Love Part III).
Sometimes our love is tested. In Luke 10:38-42, Mary and Martha, sisters, were getting annoyed with each other, or more accurately Martha was self-righteously ticked with her younger sister, Mary.
Some think this sibling rivalry was the result of a difference of temperaments:
1. Martha was an extrovert, the talker. Mary was the introvert, the thinker.
2. Martha was always busy. Mary was contemplative and analytical.
3. Martha was a Type A with her Things To Do list always in hand. Mary was a Type B, more laid back, always with a book in hand.
4. Martha was the worker. She invites or at least receives Jesus in her home. Mary was the worshipper.
You can see this contrast in personalities again when the two are contrasted at the death of their brother Lazarus in John 11:20-32. When Martha learns Jesus is coming to Bethany, she runs to meet Him while Mary sits and ponders the death of her brother.
The conflict between these two sisters, however, is much more than a clash of personalities. Mary was balanced in her service and worship of God. Martha was not.
First of all in this next event in the Life of Christ we see
I. Laboring and Learning Out of Balance (verses 38-40a)
A. Martha is frantically laboring to prepare a meal for Jesus (v. 38)
When Martha learns that Jesus is coming for dinner, she downs a Five Hour Energy drink and tops it with a Red Bull. She goes into command mode barking orders. She dispatches a servant to the market to purchase the freshest meat and veggies. She Spring cleans her house in a matter of minutes. Martha is the Queen of Multi-tasking. Just as soon as the servant returns she starts chopping food while micromanaging every one else in the house.
Jesus shows up early, about halfway through the preparations, which only added more pressure.
I read that at one time in our nation Americans bought more tonnage of aspirin for headaches than fertilizer. Not more in price but tonnage of aspirin for headaches that in most cases are stress related and not physically caused.
Jim Elliot, modern martyred missionary, said, “I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds…. Satan is quite aware of the power of silence” (Donald S. Whitney. Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life, Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1991, 187).
B. Mary who was helping in the kitchen goes and sits at Jesus’ feet (v. 39)
Mary was ready to get out of the same kitchen Martha Stewart was in.
To sit at Jesus’ feet was an official position of a student. Pupils did not enroll in colleges and universities, they hired tutors. In Acts 22:3, Paul’s parents employed the most famous of Jewish rabbis, Gamaliel. Mary was honored to be among a select few to have Jesus as her teacher. Three times Mary is seen at Jesus’ feet (Mark Driscoll’s sermon).
Mary was a serious student at the feet of Jesus’ feet learning His Word and her life reflected it.
Some call this spiritual exercise the Spiritual Discipline of Silence and Solitude. There is virtually a Who’s Who List of Men and Women of God in Church history who valued their time alone with God’s Word:
David Branerd, American missionary to native Americans, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon who said, “I commend solitude.” J. Hudson Taylor, Jim Elliot, A. W. Tozer, the great devotional writher, who recommended, “Retire from the world each day to some private spot, even if it be only the bedroom (for a while I retreated to the furnace room for want of a better place). Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles, had a very large family of 19 children and for many years times of physical isolation were scarce. It is well known that when she needed silence and solitude she would bring her apron up over her head and read her Bible and pray underneath it. Obviously that did not block out all noise, but it was a sign to her children that for those minutes she was not to be bothered and the older ones were to care for the younger” (Whitney, 189).
C. Martha was distracted in her busyness (v. 40a)
Martha was so busy serving Jesus she neglected Jesus. Martha could have prepared a much simpler meal and joined Mary at Jesus’ feet. This is what the writer of Proverbs recommended: Proverbs 15:16, “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.” It is better to have a vegetable plate with less stress in preparation than a seven course meal that took half a day to prepare resulting in everyone mad because of all the pressure.
In Part 2, we will consider the results and the correction of laboring and learning out of balance.