“Mary . . . kept listening to what [Jesus] was saying. Martha . . . was distracted with attending to many duties.”
SONGS: 94, 134
1, 2. Why did Jesus love Martha, but what mistake did she make that shows she was not perfect?
WHEN you think of Lazarus’ sister Martha, what kind of person do you imagine? The Bible shows that Martha was a very good friend of Jesus, and it says that he loved her. Of course, she was not the only woman whom Jesus loved and respected. For example, Martha’s sister, Mary, was also Jesus’ close friend. And Jesus loved his own mother, Mary. (John 11:5; 19:25-27) So why did Jesus love Martha?
2 Jesus loved Martha because she was kind and generous, and she was also a hard worker. But most of all, Jesus loved her because she had strong faith. She believed all that Jesus taught, and she had no doubts that he was the promised Messiah. (John 11:21-27) Even so, Martha was not perfect. Like all of us, she made mistakes. For example, once when Jesus was visiting them, Martha was upset with her sister, Mary, and told Jesus that he should correct her. “Lord,” said Martha, “does it not matter to you that my sister has left me alone to attend to things? Tell her to come and help me.” (Read Luke 10:38-42.) Why did Martha say that, and what can we learn from Jesus’ reply to her?
MARTHA WAS DISTRACTED
3, 4. What did Mary do that Jesus approved of, and what did Martha learn? (See opening picture.)
3 Jesus was grateful that Martha and Mary had invited him to their home, and he wanted to use that time to teach them precious truths. Mary immediately sat by him, “listening to what he was saying.” She wanted to learn everything she could from the Great Teacher. Martha too could have chosen to listen to Jesus. And he would have praised her for stopping what she was doing to pay attention to him.
4 But Martha was distracted. She was busy preparing a special meal for Jesus and doing many other things to make his stay as nice as possible. When she saw that Mary was not helping her, she got irritated and complained to Jesus. He knew that Martha was trying to do too much, so he kindly said: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and disturbed about many things.” He also suggested that a simple meal, perhaps one dish, would be enough. Then Jesus praised Mary for listening carefully to him. He said: “For her part, Mary chose the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.” Mary may have forgotten what she ate during that meal, but no doubt she never forgot the things she learned from Jesus and the way he commended her. Over 60 years later, the apostle John wrote: “Jesus loved Martha and her sister.” (John 11:5) These words show that Martha accepted Jesus’ loving correction and served Jehovah faithfully for the rest of her life.
5. Why is it especially difficult today to stay focused on what is more important, and what question will we answer?
5 We realize that today there are more things that can distract us from serving Jehovah than there were in Bible times. The September 15, 1958, issue of The Watchtower warned the brothers and sisters not to allow technology to distract them from serving Jehovah. Even at that time, it seemed that every day there was something new. Things such as glossy magazines, radio, movies, and television had become very popular. The Watchtower said that as we get closer to the end of this system, “distractions will likely increase.” Today, more than ever before, there are so many things that can distract us. What can we do to become more like Mary and stay focused on worshipping Jehovah?
DO NOT USE THE WORLD TO THE FULL
6. How have Jehovah’s people used technology?
6 Jehovah’s people have used the world’s technology to preach the good news. For example, before and during the first world war, they showed the “Photo-Drama of Creation.” By using slides and short movies in color and with sound, they preached to millions of people in many countries. The end of the “Photo-Drama” described the peaceful time when Jesus Christ would rule the earth. Later, Jehovah’s people used the radio to broadcast the Kingdom message to millions around the world. Today, we use computers and the Internet to reach people wherever they are, even in isolated places.
7. (a) Why is it dangerous to use the world to the full? (b) What should we be very careful of? (See footnote.)
7 The Bible warns us not to use the world to the full. This includes spending too much time on things that the world offers. (Read 1 Corinthians 7:29-31.) Some of these things are not wrong, but they could waste a lot of our time. For example, we might enjoy hobbies, reading books, watching television, visiting interesting places, shopping, and finding out about the latest electronic devices or luxuries. Many like to chat online, send text messages and e-mails, or keep checking the news or the sports results. But some can become addicted to doing these things. * (See footnote.) (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6) If we use a lot of our time on things that are not essential, we might not give enough attention to what is most important, our worship of Jehovah.
8. Why is it so important that we do not love the things in the world?
8 Satan does all he can to attract us to the things in his world and distract us from serving Jehovah. Satan did this in the first century, and he does this even more so today. (2 Timothy 4:10) So we should constantly examine how we feel about the things in the world and make adjustments where needed. The Bible tells us that we must not love the things in the world. Instead, we must keep our love for Jehovah strong. If we do, it will be easier to obey Jehovah and to stay close to him.
KEEP FOCUSED ON WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT
9. What did Jesus teach his disciples to focus on, and how did he set the example?
9 Just as he kindly taught Martha not to be distracted by many things, Jesus taught his disciples the same lesson. He encouraged them to keep focused on serving Jehovah and his Kingdom. (Read Matthew 6:22, 33.) Jesus himself set an excellent example. He did not have many things, and he did not own a house or any land.
10. What good example did Jesus set for us?
10 Jesus did not let anything distract him from the preaching work. For example, not long after he began preaching, the crowds in Capernaum wanted Jesus to spend more time in their city. What did he do? He stayed focused on his assignment. He said: “I must also declare the good news of the Kingdom of God to other cities, because for this I was sent.” (Luke 4:42-44) Jesus walked great distances to preach the good news and teach as many people as possible. He was a perfect man, but he still got tired and needed to rest because he worked very hard.
Jesus taught us that if we focus on having more things, we could be distracted from serving God
11. What did Jesus do when a man asked him about a personal problem? What lesson did Jesus teach his disciples?
11 Later, when Jesus was teaching his disciples an important lesson, a man interrupted him and said: “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus did not try to solve this man’s personal problem. He did not get distracted from teaching his disciples. In fact, he used this opportunity to teach them that if they focused on having more things, they could be distracted from serving God.
12, 13. (a) What did Jesus do that impressed some Greek people in Jerusalem? (b) How did Jesus react when Philip asked him to meet with those people?
12 Jesus’ last few days as a human were very stressful. (Matthew 26:38; John 12:27) He knew that he was going to suffer terribly and die. He also knew that he had more work to do before he died. For example, on Sunday, Nisan 9, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The crowds welcomed him as their King. (Luke 19:38) The next day, Jesus courageously threw out from the temple greedy men who were selling things for high prices and thus robbing people.
13 Some Greek people, who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, saw what Jesus had done and were impressed. So they asked the apostle Philip if they could meet with Jesus. But Jesus was not trying to find people who could support him and defend him from his enemies. He knew what was more important. He kept focused on Jehovah’s will for him, that is, to give his life as a sacrifice. So he reminded his disciples that he would soon die and that all those who follow him must be willing to sacrifice their lives too. He said: “Whoever is fond of his life destroys it, but whoever hates his life in this world will safeguard it for everlasting life.” But Jesus also promised that “the Father will honor” Jesus’ followers and give them everlasting life. Philip could give those Greek people this encouraging message.
14. Although Jesus put the preaching work first in his life, what did he make sure to do?
14 When Jesus was on earth, his main work was to preach the good news. Although he focused his life on preaching, he was not always thinking about work. For example, he went to at least one wedding, where he turned water into very good wine. (John 2:2, 6-10) He also had meals at the homes of his friends and others who were interested in the good news. (Luke 5:29; John 12:2) More important, Jesus often took time to pray, meditate, and rest.
“THROW OFF EVERY WEIGHT”
15. What did the apostle Paul say that Christians need to do, and how did he set a good example?
15 The apostle Paul said that Christians are like runners in a long race and that to finish the race, they have to get rid of anything that could slow them down or stop them. (Read Hebrews 12:1.) Paul himself set a good example. He could have been rich and famous as a Jewish religious leader, but he gave up that career to focus on “the more important things.” He worked very hard in the preaching work and traveled to many places, including Syria, Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Judea. Paul looked forward to his reward of everlasting life in heaven. He said: “Forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead, I am pressing on toward the goal for the prize.” (Philippians 1:10; 3:8, 13, 14) Paul was not married, and that helped him to give “constant devotion to the Lord without distraction.”
Paul gave up his career to focus on “the more important things”
16, 17. Whether married or not, how can we follow Paul’s example? How did Mark and Claire do this?
16 Like Paul, some of Jehovah’s servants today choose not to get married so that they can do more in Jehovah’s service. (Matthew 19:11, 12) Unmarried people often have fewer family responsibilities than married people. But whether married or not, all of us can “throw off every weight” that could distract us from serving Jehovah. We may need to change our habits so that we avoid wasting time and are able to do more in Jehovah’s service.
17 For example, Mark and Claire, who grew up in Wales, began pioneering when they finished school. After they got married, they continued pioneering. But they wanted to do more. Mark explains: “We were able to simplify our lives further by giving up our three-bedroom house and our part-time work so that we could enter the international construction work.” For the past 20 years, they have traveled to many parts of Africa to help build Kingdom Halls. Sometimes they had very little money, but Jehovah always took care of them. Claire says: “It gives us deep satisfaction to spend every day serving Jehovah. We have made so many friends along the way, and we lack nothing. The little that we have given up cannot be compared to the happiness that comes from serving Jehovah full-time.” Many full-time servants feel the same way. *
18. What questions can we ask ourselves?
18 Do you feel that you could be more enthusiastic in your service to Jehovah? Are there things distracting you from what is more important? If so, what can you do? Maybe you could improve the way you read and study the Bible. The next article will explain how you can do that.
^ par. 17 See also the life story of Hadyn and Melody Sanderson in the article “Knowing What Is Right and Doing It.” (The Watchtower, March 1, 2006) Their business in Australia was doing well, but they gave it up to enter full-time service. Read what happened after they ran out of money while serving as missionaries in India.