Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God's Beautiful Design for Women, Day 36

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: If you have a spotless house and you fix awesome meals and you’re like an award-winning mother and have a prize-winning home and could have magazine covers about your home or your homemaking prowess, it means nothing if you don’t have a heart that is connected to the Lord.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned. It’s Monday, March 27, 2017.

You can paint your walls, redo your flooring, install new fixtures, or update your look. None of these things truly create a warm home.

But your attitude while tackling projects like these will make a big difference within your four walls and beyond. Find out why as Nancy continues in a series called "God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1–5."

Nancy: If you have your Bible, let me ask you to turn to the gospel of Luke, chapter 10. I want us to look at a very familiar passage—familiar to most of us—about a homemaker named Martha.

That seems to be a popular name for homemakers. I want us to see some things in this woman’s life that pick up on the next quality we’re looking at in our study of Titus 2.

Luke 10:38: "As they [Jesus and His band of disciples that were following Him] were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home."

So the first thing we learn about Martha is that she had a home. We know that the home was in the town of Bethany, and that she had a sister named Mary and a brother named Lazarus.

As far as we know, she was not married, but we don’t really know whether she was or she wasn’t. But we know that she had a home and that she had a heart for her home and a heart for hospitality.

She was working at home, which is what we’ve studied over the last few sessions in Titus 2 that women are to do. As they are reflecting the gospel, they’re to be working at home. That’s what Martha did, and that’s why she was able to welcome Jesus and those who were accompanying Him into her home.

This was probably no small band. This wasn’t just a little intimate dinner here. There could have been a dozen or two dozen or maybe three dozen people. So somehow she had to make preparations for Jesus to come into her home.

We don’t know how much notice she had, but we do see that here’s a woman who had a heart to serve through her home. Verse 39, “She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.”

So Jesus is speaking to those who have gathered around, as the rabbis of the day would do. And Mary, who had this very contemplative heart (the more so of the two sisters, it seems), is sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him teach.

Verse 40, “But Martha was distracted with all her preparations.” I’m reading this time from the New American Standard Bible, and that’s the way it reads there.

If you go to the ESV, which I normally use, it says she was “distracted with much serving.” She was distracted with all her preparations, or distracted with much serving. The first word of that verse is a clue that something is wrong.

Mary was seated at the feet of Jesus, listening to His word. Verse 40, “But Martha . . .” Martha was doing something else. Some things needed to be done, but there’s a problem there.

She was distracted with her preparation. She was distracted with much serving. That word distracted means to be busy; to be pulled or dragged from all directions.

She was being pulled in many pieces, from many directions—many demands, all the things that needed to be done. You’ve been there, done that. You know exactly what that phrase is talking about.

If you have a home, if you’re a keeper of a home—if you have a husband, if you have children—you know what it is at times to have people and things and demands pulling at you from every different direction while you’re trying to serve others.

So verse 40 goes on to say, “She came up to [Jesus] and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’”

Now, let me just make some observations, as I was meditating on this passage this morning. Here’s Martha, who has gone from serving others to being self-centered. Let’s set the scene here.

Remember what was going on. What was Jesus doing while Martha was doing those preparations? He was teaching. He was speaking.

He probably wasn’t standing up at a lectern doing an official preaching service. They were sitting maybe in the living area, right outside or whatever, and people were gathered around Him, and He was teaching about the kingdom of God and the gospel. That’s why He came.

So Jesus is teaching. And what were the other guests doing? They were listening. They were gathered around Him.

So we’re having a little church service with Jesus. Martha apparently thinks that whatever has gone wrong in the kitchen in her serving is of such significance that she needs to interrupt Jesus, who is speaking, and the others who are listening.

It never occurred to me until I just started to put myself in this scene—it says clearly what Jesus was doing, what the others were doing—and Martha goes up to Him and says . . . So she interrupts the church service!

I don’t want to be too hard on Martha. The only reason I really know what she’s doing is because I have been there so many, many times myself.

She interrupts Jesus, and her outburst here is “all about me.” “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to come and help me.” It’s me-centered.

She had been serving, but she got distracted while serving, and she ended up becoming self-centered. That caused her to create this ruckus, this interruption, this distraction in the eternal stuff that was going on between Jesus and those who were sitting listening to Him.

So in the process of becoming me-centered, you become insensitive to others. It’s like they don’t even exist. Or if they do, they don’t matter. All that matters right now is how I feel and what is happening to me and my needs and what I want to see accomplished.

I see here a woman who is annoyed. She’s irritated. I think she would have explained that by saying, “I’m frustrated. There is so much to do, and I only have two hands. I’m only one person; I can’t do it all.”

Again, I’m looking into the eyes of women here who know exactly what Martha was feeling. We’ve been there.

You don’t even have to be married or have a home of your own to know that as you fulfill the responsibilities God has given you at this season of life, there are times when you feel like it’s more than you can handle. You get frustrated.

What happens if you don’t take that frustration to the right place, if you don’t deal with it God’s way, with a sound mind, as we’ve discussed throughout this series? You’re going to sin by getting annoyed and irritated.

The sin wasn’t that there was so much to do. The sin wasn’t that you were struggling to get it all done, unless you perhaps took on more than you should have—those are other issues.

There’s no indication she was doing something she shouldn’t have done. It was noble. She was serving.

But she got distracted, pulled apart at the seams, frazzled mentally. She lost her sound mind with all that was going on.

As a result, she got annoyed and irritated with her sister, with Jesus apparently, and with who knows who else. I hear in her words an accusatory tone: “Lord, do you not care . . .” Accusatory toward Jesus, impugning His motives, suggesting that He doesn’t care; accusatory toward her sister, Mary: “My sister has left me.”

We don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t know what she didn’t say. We don’t know what she was thinking.

But the suggestion here is that she really feels that her sister has done something wrong. She’s accusing her sister of not being helpful, of being neglectful of responsibilities.

Do you find, when you get accusatory under pressure, that you begin to assume on people’s hearts and motives? You assume they’re doing this “because they don’t like me” or “because they don’t love God” or . . .

I mean, your mind just goes in so many different directions if you let it. This unsound mind will take you down a very wrong path.

I hear some resentment here. “Don’t You care that she’s left me alone to do this? She’s left me to do all the serving alone!” Talk about a pity party! And then demanding: “Tell her to help me.”

Do you ever find yourself telling God what to do or telling your husband or barking out orders to your children, becoming demanding? Service is no longer a gracious, loving privilege gladly given. It has become a burden, a drudgery.

The very people we’re supposed to be serving have become a bother, a nuisance. We wish they’d just go away and leave us alone.

Do you ever wish God would call you to the uninhabited regions of the world? “I wouldn’t mind ministry if it weren’t for people.” “I wouldn’t mind being a mother if it weren’t for people.”

God has called us to people. If we don’t think about serving God’s way, we will end up potentially becoming resentful toward the very ones He has called us to serve.

I see this attitude expressed in different ways in women. Let me read you an email that one of our listeners sent. She said,

I am a Christian woman who seems to always have my kindness taken for granted. Others seem to take my kindness as a weakness. I’m starting to get very aggravated by it all. So aggravated that I can feel my heart becoming hard.

Do you ever find yourself becoming so aggravated with those God has called you to serve that your heart becomes hard toward them, toward the Lord, toward others? Look at verse 41: “But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things.'”

That word worried means “anxious.” It’s related to another word that means “to draw in different directions.” You’re anxious. You’re strung out. You’re drawn in so many different directions. And you’re bothered. The Greek word that’s translated bothered is a word that actually sounds like “turbulent.” You’re in turmoil.

Sometimes our thoughts do that. That’s why we need a sound mind, so we don’t get worried and bothered about so many things.

And then this thought of “many things.” It seems to me that things had become more important to Martha than people. “You are worried and bothered about so many things.” There were “so many things.” She had lost perspective. She had lost focus. She had forgotten what really mattered, so Jesus stepped into her life to remind her.

Verse 42, “But only one thing is necessary.” Only one thing really matters. Not that nothing else matters at all, but only one thing is absolutely essential that you can’t live without: “for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

What is that good thing, that absolutely necessary thing? It’s protecting your relationship and your fellowship and your communion with the Lord.

If you have a spotless house and you fix awesome meals and you’re like an award-winning mother and have a prize-winning home and could have magazine covers about your home or your homemaking prowess, it means nothing if you don’t have a heart that is connected to the Lord, in communion with Him.

We’ve been looking at Titus 2 and seeing that older women are to teach what is good, “and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home,” and then to be “kind” (vv. 3–5).

We come today to that word kind. We’re coming toward the end of the last qualifications and characteristics here of women: to be kind.

Notice that this word kind follows the characteristic of working at home. It’s not enough, as we just said, to be a home-worker, a homemaker. This word kind addresses how we do that.

It addresses the motives, the disposition, how that service is carried out. Martha was a consummate homemaker, but in this situation she wasn’t kind. She lost the heart, the spirit, the tone with which we are to do our domestic responsibilities. It matters.

It doesn’t just matter that we get those tasks checked off our list. It matters the tone and the spirit, how we treat and respond to our family and friends. That’s what matters.

It doesn’t just matter that we get those tasks checked off our list. It matters the tone and the spirit, how we treat and respond to our family and friends.

This word that is translated kind means "to be good-natured, to be good and benevolent, profitable, useful, beneficial in its effect, kind, helpful, charitable."

I know a lot of women who are faithful, diligent, conscientious homemakers, and I want to be your cheerleaders. Some of you are just so faithful at it. You’re so conscientious at it.

But I want to ask you, do you have a kind disposition to go with that? Or do you just gut it out? Do you just do it out of sheer grit and determination, or do you do it with kindness?

Your children will not so much remember that you were a fabulous cook or that you kept a spotless house or that you were an incredible decorator as they will the spirit and the tone and the heart with which you do those things. Do you do it with kindness? It’s hugely important.

Working at home, managing the house, dealing with husband, with children, with demands—it can be very routine and mundane. You know that better than I do. It can be frustrating. You know that better than I do.

Sometimes you’re going to feel alone, as Martha did—like no one cares, like no one appreciates, like no one notices, like no one is there to help you. It requires diligence, discipline, and faithfulness day in and day out to be a keeper at home.

But it also requires kindness. And this too is something that older women are supposed to be able to teach to the younger women.

One of my Bible dictionaries says that not only is the mistress (the woman) of the house to have thrift and energy and discipline, but she’s also supposed to have a gracious and kind demeanor—not just discipline, but demeanor. That is her manner, her attitude, her spirit.1

Another commentator talks about this kindness being “a lack of irritability in light of the nagging demands of mundane and routine household duties.”2 Why are so many of you grimacing? Do I sense some conviction here?

Again, don’t run out of these sessions (and I know some are prone to do this) and just start beating yourself up. “I am such a failure!” “I am such a louse!” “Woe is me. I’m just going to curl up and die!” No, that’s a response of pride when the Holy Spirit convicts. 

What God wants us to do is to humble ourselves and say, “Lord, You’re right. I do get irritable. And my family has seen more irritability in recent days than they have seen a kind disposition. And Lord, apart from You I can’t be kind. I can do the right things. I’m disciplined. I know how to do these things. But Lord, only Your Spirit can make me kind as I do them. Only Your Spirit can give me a heart to serve my family.”

So go to the cross. Go to Christ. Get His grace if God is convicting you in this area.

This kindness is the opposite of being harsh, unkind, impatient, demanding, bitter, resentful, severe, or exacting. Those are some of the words that some of us are familiar with and that many of us wrestle with at times. Those are expressions of the flesh, not of the Spirit in our homes.

Warren Wiersbe says about this passage, “She does not rule her household with an iron hand, but practices ‘the law of kindness,’” which of course comes from Proverbs 31:30. This kind of kindness, this heart attitude is rooted in humility.

Jerry Bridges says about the subject of kindness, “Apart from God’s grace, most of us naturally tend to be concerned about our responsibilities, our problems, our plans. But the person who has grown in the grace of kindness has expanded his thinking outside of himself and his interests and has developed a genuine interest in the happiness and the well-being of those around him.”

Ladies, one of the things that will help you with kindness in your home is to remember that it’s not about you. It’s not about your feeling, your time, your energy, your being loved, your being approved, your being praised.

The wonderful thing is, Proverbs 31 says that the woman who fears the Lord and gives her life to serve, she will be praised [see v. 30]. She will have a great reward.

But if you do it for that, you’ll be disappointed, because there will be a lot of times when the people you’re serving don’t even know what you did to serve them. Like when you spend hours on a weekday down on your hands and knees cleaning out the grout in the bathroom tile.

Is anybody in your family likely to really notice that or appreciate it? Big deal! Even if they do notice it, they have no clue what it took you to do it.

If your heart is to make an impression or to be praised or affirmed, you’re going to be a resentful woman, or you’re going to start neglecting things. But when your service flows out of others-centeredness and love for them and concern about their happiness and well-being, then you can serve with kindness and (could I say this?) with joy.

Not only does kindness flow out of humility and others-centeredness, it also flows out of Christ-centeredness, most importantly—a life that is centered in Christ; Christ-consciousness. I think that Martha lost her kindness because she lost perspective. She forgot who she was serving and why.

I mean, imagine taking Jesus to task! But isn’t that what we do when we get resentful of our serving? One thing is necessary. Be with Jesus.

  • Have you become distracted with much serving?
  • Have you developed an edge in your heart, in your voice, in your spirit?
  • Are you lacking kindness?

Then you need to do what Jesus said Martha needed to do. That’s the one thing that Mary chose to do. What is it? Listen to Jesus.

“Martha, Martha [Nancy, Nancy], you are worried and bothered about so many things.” What do you do? Agree with Jesus if He’s pointed that out to you.

Say, “Lord, I’ve been serving, but not with kindness. I’ve become a shrew. I’m shrieking, barking out orders. I’m not making this home a happy place for my family to be. Yes, they’re getting fed; yeah, they’re getting their needs met, but I’m not ministering grace to their spirits.”

Agree with God. Let Him restore your perspective. There are many things. There always will be many things. There will always be more things on your to-do list than there are hours in the day to do them.

What you need to know—and you’ll find this as you get into Jesus’ presence and at His feet—is what really matters to Him. People matter more than things.

People matter more than things. Remember that when you go home today. Remember that when you minister to your husband, to your children.

People matter more than things—remember that!

Be willing to stop, to take time, to be kind, to listen. Don’t always be running like a house afire with a hundred things on your to-do list, running past the very people God has sent you to serve.

Let Jesus prescribe what you need. Get to Him, as Martha did. Make a conscious choice to center your life in Him. “Only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from her.”

As I was meditating on this earlier today, I thought about those words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28–30.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

So if you’re beleaguered, exhausted, frustrated, annoyed, irritated, demanding—maybe there’s an edge, you’ve lost your peace, you’ve lost your kindness, and as a result your family has lost their peace—come to Jesus. Sit at His feet. Learn from Him.

You’ll find rest for your soul. Then you’ll be able to reflect His gentle, humble, kind heart to those you serve.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back to pray. She’s been reminding us why we do what we do, and that message is so important to busy women.

That message is part of a series called “God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1–5." These kind of messages are having a big effect on young moms like Madeline. She wrote us and said:

In this new season of my life, my appreciation for Revive Our Hearts has never been greater. I am a young mom of three small children, and another one on the way. At the end of the day I find myself exhausted and just praying for strength for another day—and that's when I turn on Revive Our Hearts.

On my local radio station, the program comes on at 9:30, after I finally get the kids wrestled into pajamas, and they've stopped running down the hall to get another drink, and I'm trying to do the sinkful of scary, dirty dishes, or fold the pile of laundry lurking on the couch, or sweep up the rest of dinner before my husband gets home from his late shift.

My heart and body so weary, I need so desperately that moment of turning my eyes back to Jesus. Sometimes the word brings conviction, sometimes encouragement, but always blessing. I am so thankful for Nancy and Revive Our Hearts speaking the word into my life, in all its mess and craziness. I wish I could give more back to you, but we're in a very lean season right now. I give what I can, in hopes that God will continue to bless others the way He has blessed me through this ministry! 

If you’ve given to support Revive Our Hearts, you have given to Madeline. You’ve helped make it possible for this young mom to get the perspective she needs from God’s Word at the end of a crazy day. In order to continue to speaking to other women in all seasons of life, we lean on the support of our listeners.

And for the last several months, that support has been lower than expected. We’re facing a budget shortfall of about $500,000 that will affect future ministry to women like Madeline. Would you help meet this need? When you support Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any amount this week, we’d like say "thanks" by sending you a book about how moms can invest in their kids. Carrie Ward wrote this book about reading the Bible to her young children and the effect it had on their lives.

Ask for Carrie’s book, called Together, when you call with your donation. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com to give and get a copy of the book. Why are we sometimes more eager to offer kindness to people outside our homes than to those inside? We’ll consider that tomorrow. Now, here’s Nancy to wrap things up.

Nancy: Lord, I pray for these women. I see in their faces and I sense in their hearts—and I know a lot of them personally—that there’s an eagerness to be true women and to fulfill Your calling in their lives.

I thank You for the many, many ways that the women sitting here today serve You and serve others. I pray that You would encourage them as they seek to fulfill the calling You’ve put in their lives, that they would sense Your “Well done” and Your pleasure.

But Lord, as we serve You, may we do it with Your kind and gentle and humble heart. May we be lovers, givers, those who bless. May we do what we need to do to draw deeply from You, to drink deeply from You, to sit at Your feet and let You fill and replenish us. Otherwise we have nothing but dregs left to give, many times.

May we give out of the fullness that You keep filling us with, for You are the Living Water, the Bread of Life. You are the deep well of salvation, and we keep going to You and are replenished. We pray it in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

1Word Studies in the New Testament.

2Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (2001, ©1992). Vol. 34: 1, 2 Timothy, Titus (electronic ed.). The New American Commentary (301). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

 

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