Matthew 16:23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Read Luke 10:38-42
At the Home of Martha and Mary
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
- Luke 10:42 Some manuscripts but only one thing is needed
Read Luke 18:18-30
Luke 18:18-30New International Version (NIV)
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]”
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
In both of these stories there is a common problem. The persons of the rich young man, and Martha are both distracted by things of this world. They are clinging onto the wrong things. In the case of the rich young man, he has pride that he has kept all of God’s commandments since his youth…but he doesn’t see that his pride and his love of his wealth is a problem. That is the beam in his own eye. He would not choose Jesus over his wealth and status. It isn’t that his wealth was a bad thing or that his position in life was a bad thing…it was his unyielding love of those things that made them bad.
In the case of Martha, she had Jesus in her house, and she was so busy fussing in the kitchen that she didn’t have time to appreciate and listen to him. Have you ever done that? Had a guest and been so busy with trying to make them comfortable physically that you had no time to spend with actually visiting with them? I am a bit of a neat freak, so I can relate to this a bit. After Thanksgiving dinner I want to get things cleaned up because my relatives will start cleaning up for me if I don’t get on it. I appreciate their help, but it makes it hard to sit down and enjoy their company. Don’t get me wrong, I am not making a complaint….the help is wonderful. I didn’t grow up with that kind of help…it was myself and one of my brothers hand washing it all. However, I can relate to Martha a bit. The host/hostess of the party always wants to make sure their guests are having a good time. The thing is that most guests come to visit us, not our food and drinks. This was the case for Martha also, except her special guest was Jesus! Her sister sat right down to visit, recognizing that spending actual time with Jesus was most important…hearing what he had to say…soaking up that presence.
Satan uses all kinds of methods to draw us away from God, but one of his most useful and successful methods is to make us feel that something is more important than seeking God’s presence! We frequently treat God as a “I’ll get to him later! I don’t have time for that right now!”
The thing is that God only adds to our lives….somewhere many people have gotten the mistaken notion that God is going to take something from our lives. Gosh, I think maybe they might have received that notion from Satan, don’t you?!!
In C.S. Lewis The Screw tape Letters we see many examples of how the devil manipulates people from behind the scenes….whispering to them, causing havoc between them and their fellow men, causing unreasonable hatred between people, etc. However, the method that is easiest is simple distraction. Here is an example, paraphrased from the book:
There is a guy sitting in a library and he is starting to have a really important thought, so the demon whispers in his ear…it’s time for lunch…let’s go get some lunch….of course, the body needs fed, so that man gets up and goes out to get lunch…(once outside the library the world is noticed as it is busy and noisy)…completely forgetting the thought that he had been starting to entertain about God.
Genesis 1:26 New International Version (NIV)
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
- Genesis 1:26 Probable reading of the original Hebrew text (see Syriac); Masoretic Text the earth
We need to be certain that we don’t let our physical and emotional needs or our joy of God’s creation and the activities we have here on earth distract us from the fact that we are God’s creation and we are created to serve and glorify God.
Once we understand that we are created to serve God then we have a purpose that causes us to seek out how God wants us to serve him. For each of us our service to God is unique…God planned out what part we have in his plan before our birth. It is to prosper us, not to harm us….that doesn’t seem like God is planning to take away anything at all. In fact, I can tell you that the peace of heart and mind that God gives to the person who serves him with all their heart is so very wonderful. It is a contentment that can be found no where else.
Isaiah 43:7New International Version (NIV)
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
We can see from reading Genesis 1:26, and Isaiah 43:7 that God gave us a job to do, and that we are here to glorify him.
Jeremiah 29:11-14 11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.
This promise in Jeremiah was given to Israel when they went into captivity in Babylon, but it applies to us who are held captive by the things of this world also. Seek God and Find Him…or the way I like to think about it is that if you are seeking God, seriously, with all of your heart, then God will find you…(though he always knew where you were…it is just that he will actively lead you to know him.) Every person’s journey is individual when it comes to getting to know God…we all have a different story to tell about our faith experience.