February 12, 2020

Luke 10:40

40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

There’s a small, critical word at the beginning of Luke 10:40. It occupies a similar space in Romans 6:23.

 For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 


The word “but” often means that we should be on the lookout for opposites. In our story of Martha, what are the opposites? Usually we see Mary and Martha in contrast—and we will look at that on Friday. But today, we have important lessons to learn about Martha. Opposites reside in Martha herself. We start by seeing a person willing to host a large and rowdy crowd. If you hosted Thanksgiving or Christmas last year, think about that sort of a gathering. Hosting it requires a spirit of generosity and hospitality. A willingness to disrupt your own life in the service of others. BUT in verse 40 we learn that she was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. What was she distracted from? 

The foundation of hospitality is people. When God calls us to be hospitable, it isn’t only about providing for someone’s physical needs—food and shelter. By providing those things, we create space for walls to come down. We can affirm their worth as a person. We can offer breathing room in the midst of stress. Recently, we hosted a large family at our house. They have 5 kids, two of which are toddlers. The younger kids were down for a nap, and the older kids were off playing with my kids. I turned to the dad and said, “The kids are all taken care of. What do you want to do?” He looked at me surprised and said, “It has been a really long time since I’ve been asked that question.” Our hospitality can allow people to experience a new (or long deferred) part of who they are.

But Martha is distracted from the people in favor of the preparations. She’s lost sight of the very reason she opened her home in the first place! Her focus has shifted inward instead of outward. Look at what she says to Jesus. “My sister has left me do the work by myself.” My, me, myself in rapid succession. So the contrast we can see in this verse isn’t only between Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet and Martha in the kitchen. It’s also the contrast between where Martha started and where she ended. She started at generosity and hospitality, and ended in selfishness and relational dysfunction (Why didn’t she talk to Mary herself instead of asking Jesus to do the dirty work?).

When are you most likely to get distracted from what’s most important? Is it when you are late for work? Tired and hungry at the end of the day? Approaching a deadline? Is it when your toddler asks “why?” for the 100th time? I believe God wants to redeem those moments in your day. Take a moment and ask God to make you aware of your distraction. Ask Him to provide grace in those moments.

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