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Archive for March, 2011

But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 11:40-42 ESV

If the Bible were ever meant to be entertaining, this little portion of scriptures does the job. Interesting dynamics are working, grabbing our attention, mostly because relating with the passage is so easy. For context, Martha has welcomed Jesus and company to her home, and, as any good hostess, she feels the weight of care. No doubt many people visited—where the Savior went multitudes and responsibility followed. But of all the folks with Martha, there was one person annoying her most—her sister Mary! Her sibling had chosen not to help, but sit and listen to Jesus minister.

Three questions impress me about Martha. First question: What must it be like…

Living with Martha the Steward?

40 But Martha was distracted with much serving.

Luke tells us she was distracted with much serving. The word for distracted in the Greek means, “to be driven about mentally, to be over-occupied, too busy, about a thing.¹” Apparently, a person can reach a point were they are too much of a steward—possessed with it. In fact, the verb in the Greek is actually a passive verb. The idea is that you are drawn around, or drawn away by the thing! The object possesses you and all you can do is follow it where it goes. For Martha it was serving. The obsessive-compulsive behavior took hold of her and she could not help herself, ending up defining her life by this conduct!

Second question: What must it be like…

Living with Martha the Maniacal?

40 …And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

Eventually, without intervention, Martha is going to become maniacal in her obsession. You don’t think so? Listen to what she tells the Lord: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” She begins giving orders to Jesus! She commands him tell Mary to get to work. Martha is becoming obnoxious in her demands—maniacal. She invited the Lord to her house; she knew that many people accompany Him where He goes. She was aware of all the work entailed in having Him over. She made the choices and now demands her sister live with her decisions. And all the time Martha’s convinced herself she’s the one being treated so unfairly. Martha does not see how maniacal she’s become nor how she appears to Jesus. The poor woman is even drawn to the point of accusing her Savior, “do you not care!” Well, of coarse the Lord cares for Martha, and when she begins getting too demanding He’s going to be straightforward and open with her.

Third question: What must it be like…

Living with Martha the Miserable?

41 “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary.

Just how miserable do you want to make those around you and yourself? Martha chose to be anxious and troubled about her life and began projecting it upon others. The Lord was asking her politely to back off with forcing people into her choices. He doesn’t bring it up until she comes to Him—what a true gentleman! The way out of Martha type “obsessive-compulsive behavior” is discovering the one thing necessary for the moment. What is the will of God and decide that is most important—all else can wait. Figure it out and learn to relax. Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” not cumbered about by many things. Mary found that out—“Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Oh to be a little more Mary and a lot less Martha!

J. Robert Hanson


1 Thayer and Smith. “Greek Lexicon entry for Perispao”

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Sandbox Ministries

“Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us. But Jesus said to him, Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.” Luke 9:49-50 ESV

Twelve men carried the distinct honor of being called Apostles. And while there were many disciples with Jesus at the same moment, these dozen men experienced things in a unique way. Working in direct correlation with His ministry, Jesus sent them out with the specific instructions of using the same tools as He: preaching and healing. No doubt the Twelve were excited about their labors and who wouldn’t be? Going from town-to-town, changing a whole region one village at a time was both rewarding and awe-inspiring. They were all young men full of energy at the prospect of literally revolutionizing a world. These twelve men stood at the pinnacle of Jesus preaching and healing ministries.

And then came a day when the Twelve realized that apparently they were not alone. We are not given any specifics; we have no names of the man or where he even labored. Nonetheless there was another individual who had the audacity of being able to understand the powerful name of Jesus and use that name for developing a preaching and healing ministry apart from their direct association and contact.

“Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.”

To the Twelve Apostles, who were seeking greatness in their own right, this became a concern at best and they tried to stop the new miracle-worker. His main offense: casting out demons apart from association with them. The attitude is not a new one. Men have demonstrated elitism throughout long ages, worlds without end. The Twelve created the problem by looking at the ministry of Christ as if they only had the patent or registered trademark for properly executing the name of Jesus among the needy. Somehow the idea entered the thinking that only they could minister and help others. And this notion produced a distain for the wayfaring new miracle-working stranger. Their attitude is frighteningly close to the same the Pharisees and scribes exhibited toward them. What does Jesus say about this?

“Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

A wonderful and simple principle is made that should change the attitude of men with their select ministries. If they are not against you they are for you! The exclusive ministry approach has no place among God’s people and the Lord corrects this mindset unreservedly face-on. If I’m to read this straightforward, then even the direct, physical association with Jesus, such as the Twelve enjoyed, is not enough to force the exclusion of others from working in the name of Christ. I understand the natural tendency to disagree with and evaluate other Christian labors, but unless there is a direct hindrance to your ministry—it is not enough to rebuke another person for their labor.

So in a big world of many Christian works, how can there be a unified effort in cooperation? Reception as children is the key. We read of Jesus saying in verse 48:

“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

You put a bunch of children together in a sandbox and somehow they seem to work out their existences in relationship to each other while playing in close proximities. Pecking orders and prominence seem to disappear until the child learns to become more mature and sophisticated. Surely if children can learn to work together in a sandbox, Christian ministries can value each other’s unique contribution and labor mutually for the benefit of this world through the constraining love of Christ.


J. Robert Hanson

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