In light of our recent study of the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7, who or what have you determined is your most important love in life?
We know the Christian answer is to say that Jesus is our first love – and He should be.
Yet the reality of the matter is that everything else (mostly good and meaningful things) constantly crowd into the place where Christ alone deserves to be in our priorities.
I realize this is a continual threat for me in ministry. It’s so easy to fill my life with activities that look noble and necessary and even at times sacrificial, but still fail to love Christ with my time and priorities from the heart.
Fortunately for us, He is gracious and forgiving. He remembers that we are frail children of dust and feeble as frail. Most of us are just like Martha in Luke 10:38-42.
Remember Martha’s problem?
Martha was so busy doing things to serve the Lord and others. In fact, she wasdistracted with much serving. Note that: distracted with serving the Lord.
Serving is such a blessed and noble activity. It shows great love to serve others. To some people, serving is the highest form of love – it’s like their predominant love language.
This is such a valuable ministry in the church and in society at large. Those who serve are usually above reproach. Yet Jesus has a word for those who help by serving and laboring.
If Martha was distracted with the noble activity of serving Jesus and others, then there must have been something more worthy of her focus and attention than even the value of serving.
From what was Martha distracted?
Let’s go back to the text in Luke 10:39 where Martha’s sister Mary is described as one “who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching.” Mary’s priority of listening to Jesus and neglecting everything else was a great annoyance to Martha.
Martha even asked Jesus to rebuke her sister for the choice she had made. But instead of rebuking Mary for sitting at His feet, our Lord gently and lovingly rebuked Martha.
Jesus said to Martha in verse 41, “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.”
When spending time at the Lord’s feet and listening to His teaching and just loving Him is the highest goal and priority, then even noble and good things can become distractions to us. Even worthwhile activities can leave us anxious and troubled about many things.
I have certainly had that experience. In fact, I fight this battle on a daily basis.
So how do we repent when we realize that we’re like the church at Ephesus or like Martha in our distracted serving or duty-bound ministry mentality?
How do we make Jesus our first love amid all of our tasks and responsibilities?
First, we need to remember that making our devotion to Christ our number one priority and chief value doesn’t mean we never serve others or do the other activities that are necessary to life.
Instead, we make our time reflect our priorities and values.
What gets the first part of my time? What do I seek to accomplish first? What should get the first part of my time that I may “sit at the Lord’s feet and listen to His teaching”?
How can I show my love for Jesus through my priorities and other activities?
How can I show my love for Jesus in the way I love the people in my family and those who are closest to me?
How can I show my love for Jesus by putting worship with God’s people and devotion to family above recreational activities and leisurely pursuits and entertainment?
Any time we do any activity, we are doing that activity to the neglect of something else. How can I show my love for Jesus by what I deliberately neglect until later?
What are we neglecting that we need to prioritize in our lives beginning today?
What are we doing and pursuing that we need to purposefully neglect or spend less time doing in the days to come?
Every new day is filled with subtle challenges and threats to our most important love.
Growth in this area requires patience and humility as we grow into the men and women Jesus created us to be for Himself.
Now, what’s the next thing you need to do right now that will demonstrate that Jesus is your first love and the most important priority in your life? Choose the good portion which will not be taken away from you.
By His grace,