Anxious and Troubled About Many Things

February 16, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement

My first public sermon?

November 15, 1998. I was 21 years old (nearly 22). I was about to graduate from Bible college. And I was candidating for a youth pastor position at a small church in Northern Wisconsin. The pastor and elders wanted me to be available to preach on occasion, so they had me preach before the congregation as part of the interview process.

I chose as my text Luke 10:38-42, the passage about when Jesus visited Martha and Mary’s home. Right before I was to preach, one of my newly acquired friends from that church said to me, “Go easy on Martha.”

Martha and Mary provide a wonderful, living illustration of the conflict of priorities. Mary’s priority was learning from Jesus. Martha’s priority was serving Jesus. Conflict arises when two things occur: 1. Martha lacked the sufficient means to achieve her priority according to her standards; and 2. Martha felt neglected when Mary did not share her priorities. Martha unloads her frustration on Jesus, “Do you not care?”

Jesus gently answers, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things.” Jesus knows Martha’s heart. She has allowed good things to become all important things. There is no wrong or sin in being hospitable. There is nothing wrong with using your giftedness to strive for excellence. Martha’s trouble was that she let these good things become the all-important value of her heart. Her joy and security were threatened because that which she esteemed as most valuable was threatened… by her sister. So she lashes out.

“Go easy on Martha.”


Because you and I are far more like Martha than Mary. Every day we allow good things to become all-important things in our hearts. Our jobs. Our families. Our health. Political convictions. Education. Volunteering. Serving the least of these. Striving for excellence. The list can go on and on. And, just like Martha, anxiety and troubled hearts reveal when these transitions occur.

Anxiety and trouble arise in our hearts when that which is valuable to us is threatened. How do we quiet anxiety in our hearts and guard from allowing good things becoming all-important things?

Jesus gives the answer in responding to Martha: “One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Lk. 10:42). One thing is necessary. Or, in other words, only one thing ought to reign in our hearts as the “all-important” thing. What is this one necessary thing? Mary has chosen this “thing.” Jesus. Living in relationship with Jesus. Enjoying all that God does through Jesus.

Here are a couple concluding implications from the Martha and Mary story:
1. Our joy is maximized when that which is most valuable to us is most secure. Jesus promises that Mary’s good portion “will not be taken away from her.” Paul says the same thing in Romans 8:38-39.

2. Anxiety is a sin because it is rooted in valuing something (often good things) over Jesus. When that which is valuable to us is threatened we feel anxious. Only Jesus is absolutely secure.

3. The Christian’s daily task: repent of being like Martha; strive to be more like Mary. Don’t give up serving. Don’t give up striving for excellence in all that you do. Don’t give up loving your spouse and family. But don’t let these good things become all-important things in your heart. Enjoy Jesus above all.



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