Have you ever felt anxious about circumstances in your life? The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines anxious as “afraid or nervous especially about what may happen: feeling anxiety: causing or showing fear or nervousness: wanting or eager to do or have something very much especially because of fear or nervousness.”
I get anxious about finances – always feeling there is never enough. I find myself being anxious about my health and the health of my family. Sometimes to a point that I diagnosis everyone’s symptoms into a catastrophic illness and become overbearing by telling them to immediately seek medical attention. I become anxious when my house doesn’t look the way I want it to. So too Martha was anxious when she was having a big dinner party for Jesus.
In Luke 10:40(NLT) it says “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.”
I can imagine Martha going to kitchen making sure the food was being prepared correctly. She was probably giving orders to the servants to clean the house, set the table to provide the appropriate amount of washbasins for the guests; so much hustle and bustle with the anticipation of anything that might go wrong. Yet in verse 39, her sister, Mary, was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to his teaching. Yup, I can envision Martha being irritated with her sister as she is worried about all the details feeling all alone with no help from her sister.
When we are anxious about the circumstances in our lives we have no peace and the focus is on the situation. Just as Martha said to Jesus “doesn’t it seem unfair to you …, I can so easily replace that sentence with my own statement “doesn’t it seem unfair to you that I don’t have enough money? What are some statements that you have said? Yet Jesus said to Martha in verse 41-42 “But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it and I won’t take it away from her.” You see Mary sat at his feet listening to Him. Philippians 4:6 says “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Mary wasn’t affected by all the hustle and bustle, she wasn’t anxious because she discovered it. So my question to myself, is have I discovered it? Have you discovered it?
You do not have to know me very long to know that I am a grandmother and that I love my grandchildren very much (what grandmother doesn’t?). They bring me endless joy. I always have the latest story about what they just did or said. Like this evening, the kids spend the day with me and at the end of the day I asked my grandson if he would like me to tell him a story. He said that he would like to hear the three little pigs so I started to tell it the best I could from my memory. He stopped me often to point out errors that I had made in the story. We were both amused by my mistakes, but he also wanted to make sure that I got the story right. When the story was about two-thirds of the way complete and I had just made another error, my grandson smiled and asked me if I would just go get the book. This made us both laugh.
After my grandson went home, I thought about the message from Sunday and from my reading that day. The message on Sunday was titled: “Jesus Has the Right”. One of the points was that Jesus has the right to teach me what I already know. Jesus does not just teach me information. Jesus wants me to be different. The world has it all wrong and we are bombarded with wrong teaching all of the time. God’s Word corrects our wrong perspectives. My reading this morning was Mark chapter 5 about the demon possessed man that lived in the cemetery. Jesus healed him. The story spread and the people came. “A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, but they were frightened when they saw the man who had been demon possessed, for he was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane…and the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone.” (Mark 5: 16, 17). This is one of the ways that the world response to Jesus. The crowd had it all wrong. They should not have been fearful and they definitely should not have begged Jesus to leave.
As my grandson would say, we need to go get the Book. This world is going to lie to us and we lie to ourselves too. We need to prayerfully read, to ask Jesus to teach us and to change us. The good news is that our gracious and merciful Father will do that if we allow Him. Psalm 119:7 says, “As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!” (NLT).
Today is the day that we celebrate love. We buy candy, flowers, cards and maybe plan to go to a fancy dinner. It’s pretty much guaranteed that everywhere you go today you will see tons of couples and maybe a little too much PDA. I have to admit I’m not a big Valentines Day celebrator, my husband and I usually do something special during the month of February but just not on Valentines Day (mostly because I don’t like the crowds). Even if you aren’t a fan of the holiday it’s still fun to celebrate those that we love. It’s important to appreciate the people in our lives and sometimes we need the reminder of that.
Beyond all the pink hearts and roses take time today to consider true love. The greatest love, the kind of love that only Jesus can give. 1 John 4:10-11, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Jesus laid down His life for us, He proved His love for us by dying on the cross so that we might have forgiveness for our sins and have eternal life with Him. What an amazing gift, it’s sweeter than any chocolate, more costly than any jewelry and more beautiful than any rose could ever be. His Love never fails. Verse 11 says “if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” as believers we have received the greatest love. God desires that we not only be filled with His love but that we would pour it out on all those around us.
Share God’s love with someone today. Go out of your way to be kind to those that you come in contact with. It’s not easy and our flesh gets in the way many times, but we are blessed when we are obedient to God’s Word.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
Have you ever been offended by a Christian brother or sister and had a hard time letting it go? You pray about it and try to give it to the Lord, yet you find yourself dwelling on it and experiencing unwanted emotions of hurt, anger and resentment. This happens to every one of us, but it’s what we choose to do about it that makes the difference between a loving heart and a bitter heart. So, what should our attitude and actions be when we are offended by a fellow believer: righteous indignation, retribution, denying our feelings and nobly looking past the offense? Well, Matthew 18:15-17 explains a pattern of conduct to follow when we find ourselves in this situation.
In the preceding verses Jesus teaches us the importance of being humble followed by a strong admonition not to give offense. These two points are the foundation we need to build on when we begin to apply the first step – “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” The goal of confrontation must be restoration. A humble heart and an approach that does not bring offense are required. If we desire to simply “set the record straight” or to make the other person aware of their shortcomings we are off target. We are reminded by Ephesians 4:15 to speak the truth in love. Jon Courson said it this way, “Love without truth is hypocrisy. But truth without love is brutality.” The scripture tells us to “go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” This means without first complaining or gossiping about it to others. But, what does “sins against you” mean? Are we to confront our brothers and sisters every time we feel offended? I don’t think so. I believe we need to examine our hearts closely because sometimes the entire problem is contained therein. King David said it like this, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Ps 139:23-24)
We need to be prayerful about how to handle each situation and develop a balance between confrontation and bearing with one another. Sometimes we just need to ask God to help us see the other person through His eyes, to help us extend His grace to them and to use the circumstances to grow the Fruits of the Spirit in us.
The next time you’re faced with this situation, and there will be a next time, remember you have a choice you can ask God to help you confront in love for the purpose of restoration or you can ask God to help you grow in patience, longsuffering, kindness and gentleness. There is a third option – you can gossip, retaliate and harbor bitterness. I don’t recommend the last option though.