In Luke 10:38-42, we read a familiar story about two sisters, Mary and Martha, who were acquainted with Jesus and entertained him at their home. Let’s read this passage, 38) “Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39) And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40) But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. 41) And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42) But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (KJV)
Now, I feel it’s safe to assume that Martha had also sat at Jesus’ feet, since we read in verse 39 that her sister Mary ‘also’ sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his word, however, it appears that Martha has become upset in this occurrence with serving without Mary’s help. She comes to Jesus and asks him if he doesn’t care about her lonely situation and even asks him to instruct Mary to pitch in. This story has been used countless times to stress the need to spend time in reading, studying and listening to the Word of God. I’ve heard it used to illustrate to women that we should let the household chores wait and give the first fruit of the day to God, and I’ve yet to hear any woman declare her liberation from cooking, cleaning, laundry, child care and job with this concept! In fact, most of the time, it just feels like there’s one more brick on the pile now, and still there’s no help with the tasks that are to be done. Do I hear ‘amen’?
I don’t believe Jesus was merely trying to get Martha to forget the meal preparation and serving. After all, he was one of the main ones who would be eating that meal. No, Jesus was using the opportune moment to help Martha get free from worry! Oh my, now that’s something that could truly bring some liberation!
Proverbs 12:25 “An anxious heart weighs a man down.” Matthew 6:27 “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
Did you know that 40% of things we worry about will never happen? 30% are about the past – which can’t be changed, 12% are about criticism by others, mostly untrue, 10% are about health, which gets worse with worry/stress and 8% are about real problems that can be solved if a solution is sought.
Worry is a big waste of time and energy, kind of like the hamster’s exercise wheel – spinning, spinning, spinning, making us tired and weary and never getting anywhere!
The Bible tells us not to worry, in fact, it is mentioned twenty-five times in the New Testament as something we should avoid. The words used most often for worry and anxiety in the New Testament come from the same Greek word, meridzoe, which means ‘to be divided, to be pulled in opposite directions, to choke.’
In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells us: “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures.” Luke 8:14 An Old English word for worry meant ‘to gnaw’, like a dog with a bone, a worrier chews on his problem all day long.
Why is the Bible so adamant about avoiding worry and fear? Because God knows worry short-circuits our relationship with him. It fixes our eyes on our situation rather than on our Savior, Jesus Christ! A life filled with fear has little room for faith!
Worry and fear pulls us away from God, causing us to question his care for us, just as Martha asked in verse 40, “dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?” When we are burdened down, choked by life’s worries, and yes, even riches and pleasures – worried about how we don’t have what others have or enjoy the things we want – we challenge the heart of God. We also become angry with others, just as Martha was upset with her sister. She was ‘worried’ about getting everything done for the Master and there was Mary, just sitting there listening to the Master!
Are there things in this life that are overwhelming? Yes! Is there more to do than there is time? Yes! Do bad things happen to good people? Yes! Will my worry and fear change any of these facts? NO!
Paul had plenty to worry about as he sat in a Roman prison. He didn’t know if his head was about to roll or if he would simply be beaten near death, or maybe both. He had done all that God had led him to do. He had been a faithful servant. Worry and fear could have taken him down the same road as it did with Martha. He could have been angry asking God, “don’t you care that I am left here alone in this prison, my life hanging in the hands of unjust men?” Instead, he wrote the book of Philippians, an incredible epistle of joy. Philippians 4:6-7 reads, “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
3 Steps To Victory Over Worry
1) Be anxious about nothing. (Not even one thing! Not our families, not our finances, future nor past. Allow one little worry in and another is sure to follow, then another.)
2) Be prayerful about everything. (“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden”. Corrie Ten Boom)
3) Be thankful for all things. (Gratitude has the power to change our attitude! When we are willing to give thanks to God in all things, not just some things – to consciously thank him even when we don’t feel very grateful – something in us begins to shift. We begin to see life as Christ sees it, full of opportunities rather than obstacles. When we view life through eyes of faith, fear diminishes.)
So much depends on our perspective. If God isn’t bigger than my problems, then my problems are bigger than God. At that point, anxiety takes charge. Our human mind can only focus on a couple of things at a time. When we’re focused on a problem and our inadequacy to handle that problem, there’s no room for God. When we shift our focus from the problem to God and begin to thank him for taking care of everything that concerns us, there’s no room for the problem.
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Paul gives us a list of things to think about when we’re tempted to fear, worry and doubt (fret, grumble and growl). Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”
I John 4:18 “Perfect love casteth out fear.” This is the main reason we need to sit at Jesus’ feet. We need to humble ourselves before him, repent of our self-bent ways and receive his love and forgiveness. When we are secure and assured of his perfect love, we can best overcome fear and anxiety. Fear always contains some of the torture of feeling guilty. Why did Adam and Eve hide from God after they had sinned? They were guilty. They could not feel the security of God’s love. Did it change God’s love? No! He doesn’t change. He is not human with human faults. He IS love and there’s no shadow of turning in him.
A friend of mine once said, “I want to stay low at the foot of the cross”. I adopted that into my heart, to desire to stay low at the foot of the cross, the place of my redemption. The very moment that I begin to feel self sufficient and adequate is the very moment I’ve struck out on my own without him. The very moment that I begin to boast in my knowledge and feel that I’ve got everything under control is the very moment I begin to sink, I’ll be swimming for shore very soon.
At the feet of Jesus may I ever stay
Pouring out my worship to Him.
At the feet of Jesus is the only place
That I find peace and rest.
At the feet of Jesus are mercies anew
Filling my life with grace.
At the feet of Jesus is a sweet exchange
For fear He gives me faith.
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant: their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:4-5