Message 6: The Truth About Priorities

Sept. 28, 2018 Betsy Gómez

Session Transcript

Back in January I was so stressed. My husband and I were trying to decide if I needed to let go of some of the things that I was doing back then. My plate was full, and my brain was pretty stretched. I had so many pieces for those small puzzles of my day.

So we started praying about it, and guess what happened? That same day I received a text from Nancy saying, “I'm thinking about you doing the session on priorities at True Woman. What do you think?” (laughter)

I froze for a moment, and then I knew that God was on to something. He was about to teach me some practical lessons on priorities first in my life. This multi-tasking queen needed to stop and read from God's Word and study about this matter.

In that season of life, I was tired, anxious, stressed. I was feeling mentally overwhelmed. Maybe you have had times that it feels like you are in an obstacle race and in a juggling competition at the same time. Every day it felt like I was trying to reach the finish line while maintaining all my balls in the air.

I kept asking myself, “How did I get here?” I mean, this is not something that you get over simply once.

Eight years ago the Lord convicted me about my idolatry to my career outside of the home. He gave me eyes to see my sin and how it twisted my affections. And by God's grace, He gave me repentance and a heart to love what He loves. But His work didn't end there.

Even when the good things I get to do to serve the Lord, I can fall again into the same pattern of prioritizing the wrong things. This is a constant battle because everything around us is fighting for our attention. So we need to keep reminding ourselves with the truth.

So when we come to the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, we see that God is stating His priorities for His people, for His Church. God's Word is the reminder for our distracted hearts, for our forgetful hearts.

I want to share with you one truth that will help us put everything in place. So let's open our Bibles, and let's go to Luke 10. Let's go visit my twin, Martha, and my dear Mary.

Most of us know this story pretty well, but I ask you to pay attention to what God is saying to you tonight. Don't let familiarity keep you from seeing God's Truth. Let's read.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you're anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her”” (vv. 38–42).

The first thing that pops into our minds is: Am I a Mary? Am I a Martha?

And for some reason, we tend to make these two women the center of this account. And if we do that, we're totally losing the point. Let's look at these verses closely.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching (vv. 38–39).

Martha was being diligent and hospitable and doing the right thing. She welcomed Jesus into her house and served Him. And Mary, her sister, stopped whatever she was doing and sat down to listen to Jesus' teaching.

Up to this point, everything looked normal, but a shift appears. Verse 40:

But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.”

That “but” over there is presenting a contrast. Mary was sitting at the Lord's feet paying attention to His teaching, but Martha was doing the opposite. Her attention was being pulled in different ways. She was distracted with much serving.

Our hearts can be so easily distracted. Serving and doing are powerful distracters. A distracted heart is very, very dangerous because it makes us:

  • to be vulnerable.
  • to be critical and judgmental about others.
  • to be jealous of what others are doing for God.
  • to question God's character.
  • to lose the notion of who God is.
  • to lose joy in the task we are doing because our service is no longer an offering but a means to get attention, to try to perform, to get God's approval, even if we overshadow others to stand out.

When our focus is not in the right place, we view a distorted view. We view a distorted reality. We think that God doesn't care.

Jesus raised Martha's brother from the dead, and now she thought that the all-knowing God needed to be informed about what was happening. She was suggesting what the sovereign God should do. This reminds me of Eden and how easily it is for us to believe lies about God's character.

A woman led by distraction is vulnerable to believe all sorts of lies about God, about herself, about others, about what is really important.

But there is another shift in this story.

Jesus’ reply to Martha was gracious and tender. Instead of condemning her, He showed her the problem, and He pointed her to the solution to her problem.

In verse 41 He said, “But the Lord answered, ‘Martha, Martha.’ [He pronounced her name twice. How lovely.] You are anxious and troubled by many things.”

When I studied this passage, I was so convicted. Jesus' words were a mirror to me. Just like Martha, my anxiety and my distress were just symptoms of my distraction. And when we are distracted, we tend to embrace the wrong things.

In that moment my hands were full, my heart was divided. And that simple sentence exposed the lies I believed. Lies like:

  • I can do it all.
  • I need to do it all.
  • Busy equals important or godly.
  • God is calling me to fulfill every need around me or to say yes to every opportunity to serve Him.
  • Multi-tasking is the pathway to productivity for fruitfulness.
  • Doing more will make me happy.
  • God will value me if I serve Him, if I do stuff for Him.
  • If I do much, if I do a lot, He will love me more.
  • And the lie that service equals devotion.

Lies. Lies that only brought weariness and stress to me. But how in the world, as a mom, as a wife, can I get rid of the many things I have on my own plate? How do I know what to keep and what to let go?

In a world that is calling women to embrace it all and be successful in the home, in ministry, in the marketplace, we are pressured by our culture to be super women, super accomplishers, and super tired and super anxious.

Oh, how sweet are the words of Jesus in verse 42. We can see another shift here.

But one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion which will not be taken away from her.

Mary is not the center of this verse, so you can stop hating her. (laughter) Pay attention to the contrast He is making.

You are anxious and troubled with many things, but one thing is necessary.

The many things you are troubled with are hindering you from choosing the one thing that won't be taken away from you. The many earthly and temporary distractions are blinding you to see what is eternally yours.

Take a second and think of the many distractions that are filling your days causing you stress and anxiety. I know what those distractions are for me: Instagram is one of those. What are those distractions for you?

“But one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion which will not be taken away from her.”

Getting our priorities right is a matter of affections. Unless you choose and treasure that one thing, you won't get rid of the anxiety that is silently consuming you.

“One thing is necessary.” It doesn't say, “You can only do one thing.” It says, “One thing is necessary.”

There is one thing that you should place before any other thing. So you might be asking yourself, “So what is that thing? What is the good portion?

Sisters, Jesus is the good portion. He is the good portion Himself.

And you might ask me, “Well, but Jesus is not a thing.” But our devotion to Him is. The good portion was not the bread that Martha was worried about but the Bread of Life that was being served and put aside. Martha was distracted with much serving and not taking into consideration that Jesus wanted to serve her. He was helping her understand that the real host was He. And that is the great reversal. He was inviting her to let go of all the doing and come and sit at His feet.

And let me tell you, on this side of glory, we tend to think that the being-at-Jesus'-feet thing is something like romantic or super spiritual where I need to feel something, I need to sense something, I need to experience something supernatural.

We think that it’s a time of absolute quietness and tears wetting our Bibles. So what we do, because we define it that way, is it is really easy for us to withdraw. And what do we do? We run to our many things, our distraction.

Pay attention to verse 39. “Mary sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching.”

You don't read there, “And then she felt like fireworks were . . . no. (laughter) She was listening to Jesus' teaching.

So how do I make Jesus and His Word my priority? How does a young woman or a housewife mom or a busy single mom or a working woman or a widow do that?

No matter the stage of life or the circumstances that you are in right now, we are all invited to come to Jesus and listen to His Word.

Jesus came to Martha's house, but now He was inviting her to come to Him. He was inviting Martha to:

  • stop stressing about the bread that perishes and come to Him to eat what He was serving.
  • to stop trying to meet the needs of others so she can acknowledge her own need.
  • to stop focusing on what she was doing and to fix her eyes on what He was doing for her.


Jesus invited Martha to be served by Him before serving others.

So Martha was not the greatest servant, none of us are. Jesus is. We need to stop and come to Him. “For even the Son of God came not to be served but to serve and to give his life and a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).

Jesus is the greatest servant. He served us by living a perfect life, the one that we cannot. He went to the cross and carried every single sin of yours and mine to receive the punishment that we deserve.

He rose from the dead in power so you and I can rise to a living hope. He satisfied the wrath of God, and He tore the veil that separated us from God, so we can enter with confidence to His presence.

Instead of being preoccupied with much serving, with much doing like Martha, come to Jesus and be fed by His Word. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).

Sisters, taste and see that the Word of God is satisfying. The Word of God will align your affections with the truth just like it was in the beginning. His Word will bring order to your chaos, and it will put everything in place.

Sisters:

  • It is listening to His Word that we will know who God is.
  • It is listening to His Word that we will know God's purpose.
  • It is listening to His Word that we will know His plan for our lives.
  • It is listening to His Words that we are going to be renewed and transformed.
  • It is listening to His Word that we are going to know our roles as moms, single women, wives, as His daughters.

Let us come to Jesus and listen to His Word because that is the only way we will overcome the lies we have believed about priorities.

It is His Words that say to us that by the power of the Spirit we can accomplish everything God is calling us to do in a particular season of life.

It is listening to His Word that you will know that you are not the Messiah, that Jesus is, that we are not required to save the world.

We will know that our worth and satisfaction is in Him, not in what we do. And we will know that in order to serve others, we need to be served by Jesus.

That is why we need to make God's Word our priority, but we need to treasure that. We need to come to Jesus and listen to His Word, but we need to treasure it, and we also need to surrender to it because we only surrender to what we treasure.

And that is the secret to a balanced life: To make Jesus and His Word the object of our love.

John Bloom puts it this way: “Technique may increase our efficiency, but they can't determine our priorities. The heart does that. We order our lives by what we love.”

So love the Word of God and surrender your life to its authority. From the love of Jesus and His Word, obedience will follow.

Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet, and her posture suggested that she surrendered to His teaching, and that is the attitude of a disciple. “I will follow You. I will say ‘yes’ to whatever You are asking me.” But in order to do that, we need to love God's counsel. That is the only way we are going to live in a godly manner.

It is the love and the surrender to the Word of God that will bring order to our lives because, instead of going by the cookie-cutter thing when it comes to deciding what is best, we will come to the Bible, and there we will find everything we need. We will know what God loves, and our hearts will say, “Yes, Lord,” and we will surrender, and we will be empowered to let go because we want to honor Him.

So tonight, coming to Jesus, listening, and surrendering to His Word might look like repenting of our sins. Maybe it might look like a renewed love for His Word. Often it looks like opening our hands and letting go of the many things that we have, or maybe holding fast the things that were loose.

Will you stop? Will you come to Jesus? Will you listen to His Word? Will you treasure Jesus and surrender to His Word?

I want to take just several minutes to ask you to share with your neighbor how the Lord has spoken to you. Maybe you can share briefly with each other.

Are there any lies you have believing about priorities? Are there any changes you need to make in order to make Jesus and His Word a priority?

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.