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DRAGGED AWAY BY DISTRACTIONS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, May 25, 2003


"But Martha was cumbered…" (Luke 10:40).


Christ and His Disciples were travelling from Jerusalem to another part of Judea. As they went, they entered into the village of Bethany - "and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house" (Luke 10:38). Martha was probably a widow. She and her sister Mary lived in the house, which belonged to Martha. It would be expensive to feed Christ and His Disciples, but Martha knew Christ, and she believed that He was the Messiah. But from what we read in the eleventh chapter of John, Martha does not yet seem to have a full understanding of the gospel.

The account that is given to us in these five verses contrasts Martha and Mary. It shows the difference in attitude between these two women. The contrast between them can be seen in verses thirty-nine and forty. Mary, "Sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving…" Jesus gave Martha a gentle rebuke,

"Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled [worried and bothered] about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part [what is better], which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42).

It seems to me that these two, Martha and Mary, describe the attitude of every person here in church this morning. Some of you are here to sit at Jesus' feet and hear His Word. You have chosen what is better, which shall not be taken away from you. You are those who have either been converted, or soon will be. You are like Mary.

But there is a second group of people here this morning. You are more like Martha. You may, like her, believe that Jesus is a great teacher. You may even believe that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. But you are distracted from fully trusting Christ and entering into salvation.

"But Martha was cumbered…" (Luke 10:40).

What does this mean? The word "cumbered" has passed out of our everyday speech. The modern translations render the Greek word "distracted." But that isn't too helpful, either. Perhaps it is better to give a literal rendition. The Greek word translated "cumbered" is "periespato," which means "to drag all around" (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance) or "to be dragged away" (Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament).

"But Martha was cumbered…" (Luke 10:40).

Her mind was dragged all around with the task of preparing the meal. She was dragged away from Christ, rather than coming to Him and hearing His word, the "one thing" that is needful, the one necessary thing.

That is the way Matthew Poole understands the words "one thing is needful" in verse forty-two. He says,

I should interpret it generally, concerning the care of the soul with reference to eternity. That is certainly the one thing necessary, that was the better part, which Mary had chosen… (Matthew Poole, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, Banner of Truth, 1990 reprint of the 1685 edition, volume 3, p. 228).

"Martha was cumbered about much serving" (Luke 10:40).

Her mind and heart were dragged away from Christ.

You will never be truly saved until you stop allowing the world, the flesh, and the Devil to drag your heart away from Jesus. You must choose to let other things go, and do the one thing necessary - come and put your trust in Jesus Christ! That's the reason we say, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ!" He is the one who can save you from the penalty of sin and give you eternal life!

But there are things that seem more important to some of you than Christ. Your mind and heart are "dragged all around" and "dragged away" from Jesus.

"Martha was cumbered" (Luke 10:40),

and so are you! Your mind and heart are dragged away from Jesus. Here are five things that may be dragging you away from Him.

I. First, you may be dragged away from Jesus by business or study.

Commenting on this passage of Scripture, Matthew Henry says,

She should have been with her sister, sitting at Christ's feet to hear his word. Note, worldly business is then a snare to us when it hinders us from serving God and getting good to our souls (Matthew Henry's Commentary on Luke 10:40).

How many people are there in Los Angeles who care more for their paltry jobs than for their eternal souls? How many do you think there are who let work on Sunday keep them from hearing the gospel in a church service like this? They seem to say,

"I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused" (Luke 14:19).

And the Lord says,

"That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper" (Luke 14:24).

Don't you think that all of us have the same problem as you? Everyone who is a member of this church works on a secular job. There are medical doctors in our church. They make time in their schedule to be here. There are school teachers, paralegals, statisticians, bus drivers, and people in many professions in our church. Every one of them makes time in his work schedule to be in God's house on the Lord's Day. There are many college students and high school students here also. And each one of them makes time in his schedule of study to be in the Lord's house on Sunday. If all of them can find time to sit at Jesus' feet every Sunday, why can't you? Do not let your heart and soul be dragged away from Jesus by business or school work - because "one thing is needful" - and that is coming to Jesus, and getting saved! Don't be dragged away from Christ by the distractions of business or school work! Make time to sit at Jesus' feet!

"But Martha was cumbered…" (Luke 10:40).

Her mind and heart were pulled away from Christ by other activities.

II. Second, you may be dragged away from Jesus by lost friends or relatives.

All of us should love our parents and other relatives, even if they are not Christians yet. But even though we love them, we must not let them drag us away from hearing the gospel and sitting at Jesus' feet on the Lord's Day. Some of you have Catholic parents. Some of you have Buddhist parents, or parents from some other religious background. You should love them, and you should pray for them. But you should not let them drag you down! Jesus said,

"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37).

They may not understand your desire to be in church. They may try to stop you from coming to church. They often try that. How many people here this morning have ever had someone in your family try to stop you, or discourage you, from becoming a zealous Christian? Would you lift your hand? See, all over the room, there are other people who have gone through that. A relative from a Catholic, or Buddhist background, or some other religious background, tried their best to keep them from coming to Jesus, and living for Him. They came through it - and so can you! Matthew Henry said, "It is no strange thing for those that are zealous in religion to meet with hindrances and discouragements from those that are about them; not only with opposition from enemies, but with blame and censure from their friends" (ibid., p. 557).

Then, there are some of you who have non-Christian friends that are trying to drag you away from Jesus. They may try to get you to go to a sinful party with them. They may try to get you to go with them to practice some sin. They may try to get you to go with them, instead of coming to church, to sit at Jesus' feet and hear His Word! And you must resist them and shake them off - or they will drag you down with them. The Bible says,

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers… Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty" (II Corinthians 6:14, 17, 18).

"One thing is needful" - and that is coming to Jesus, and sitting at His feet! Don't be dragged away from Christ by the distractions of lost relatives or lost friends! Make sure that they don't stop you from coming to Jesus!

"But Martha was cumbered…" (Luke 10:40).

Her mind and heart were dragged away from Jesus by other distractions.

III. Third, you may be dragged away from Jesus by various anxieties and fears.

If that is true of you, Martha would have understood your case very well. Jesus said that she was

"careful [worried] and troubled [or bothered] about many things" (Luke 10:41).

How about you? Are you afraid of what might happen to you if you became a true Christian? Are you bothered by the thought of it? Do you fear that you might not be able to live the Christian life - or that you might not be able to be that zealous?

These are common fears and anxieties that the Devil puts into people's minds - because the Devil's greatest tools are fear and anxiety. If he can make you afraid, he will drag you down. He will drag you away from Jesus.

The Apostle Peter said,

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you"
   (I Peter 5:8-10).

Christ can conquer your fears and anxieties. The God of all grace, who hath called you into His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, can keep you safe from harm.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!
    ("How Firm a Foundation," from "K" in Rippon's "Selection of Hymns," 1787).

"One thing is needful" - and that is coming to Jesus. Don't be dragged away from Christ by anxieties and fears! Make sure that these feelings don't stop you from coming to Jesus!

"But Martha was cumbered…" (Luke 10:40).

Her mind and heart were dragged away from Jesus by other distractions.

IV. Fourth, you may be dragged away from Jesus by the absence of feelings.

Anxiety and fear are feelings that drag many people away from salvation in Christ. But others are pulled away from Him by the absence of feelings. They are looking for a feeling, or emotion, and when they don't experience this they are discouraged from seeking Christ.

I have spoken to many hundreds of people in my office after preaching the gospel. And I have asked these people whether they came to Jesus and were saved by Him. Very often, across the years, I have discovered by asking simple questions, and listening to the answers (most important), that a good many of them were not seeking Jesus at all. What they wanted was a "mental lift" or "emotional rush." And when they didn't get that, their minds and hearts were dragged away from Jesus by disappointment.

But you do not need an emotional experience or a "touch" of the Holy Spirit! That is not what you need at all! What you really need is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is only Jesus who can propitiate the anger of God toward your sin. It is only Jesus who can wash your sins away with His Blood, so that God will not see your sin, and so you will be saved from "the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (Revelation 19:15). You need Jesus Christ, not a feeling or emotion, because He alone can justify you

"…through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood" (Romans 3:24-25).

What you "feel" will not matter when you stand before the Judgment Throne of God after you die. What emotion you had or what you "felt" on earth will not matter then. In that day the only thing that will matter is what God feels, not what you feel. If you have come to Christ, God will feel that you are saved - whether you felt it or not.

What am I saying? I'm telling you that what you feel or don't feel is of no real consequence. Your emotional experiences don't matter. All that matters is whether you come to Christ. And often real coming to Christ happens with no feelings at all. You see, the only thing you really need is Jesus. And, in preincarnate form, Jesus said,

"Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).

You must find Christ - not emotional feelings.

Make sure that the absence of feelings does not drag you away from Christ in disappointment.

"But Martha was cumbered…" (Luke 10:40).

Her mind and heart were dragged away from Jesus by distractions.

V. Fifth, you may be dragged away from Jesus by pride.

This is a big distraction. This drags many people down and destroys them - and keeps them from ever coming to Jesus. The Bible warns against pride time and again. The Bible says,

"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18).

Again, the Bible says,

"The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee" (Obadiah 3).

And again, we read in the Scriptures,

"Pride compasseth them about as a chain" (Psalm 73:6).

You can become so bound up inside by pride that it's like you are tied up with an iron chain. The chains of pride will grow ever stronger as you get older. At last you will be like Marley's "Ghost" in Dickens' A Christmas Carol - tied up in the chains of pride, as you wander through the flames of Hell, in "the fire that never shall be quenched" (Mark 9:43).

One of my mother's brothers was a nice enough person. I have a photograph of him and Mother when they were teenagers. I look at it from time to time. Mother got saved when she was eighty. But her brother never came to Christ. His son went to church, but my uncle once told him, "I will never bow to anyone." He said that concerning his son's mention of Jesus. His son told me, "Robert, he was too proud to bow to Christ. Now he's dead. I'm afraid he's in Hell." What a sad shame. It brought tears to my eyes thinking about my uncle, too proud to bow to Christ - now tormented in the flames. What did he gain by his pride? Nothing at all. He was a farmer. He had a nice smile. He was a kind and gentle man. But one sin damned him. He was too proud to bow his knees to Christ and come to the Saviour for forgiveness of his sins. What did it get him? What did it prove? How did it help him in the end?

Make sure that your own proud heart does not damn you to Hell.

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36).

Make sure that your stubborn pride does not drag you away from Christ to that place where

"Their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched" (Isaiah 66:24).

"But Martha was cumbered…" (Luke 10:40).

Her mind and heart were dragged away from Jesus by distractions.

Don't let that happen to you! Don't let business or school work drag you away from Christ. Don't let lost friends or relatives drag you away from Christ. Don't let anxieties and fears drag you away from the Saviour. Don't let the absence of feelings drag you away from Him in discouragement. And please, whatever you do, don't let pride drag you away from the loving arms of Christ into the pit of Hell!

Conclusion

My wife and I were in New York some time ago. I was preaching there. I saw a newspaper with a big headline that told about a woman who got her purse caught in the door of a subway train. She ran along beside the train pulling at her purse. She ran faster and faster. At last her hand got caught in the strap of that purse and she was dragged alongside the train. When the train rounded a corner at full speed, the woman was dragged under the wheels. She was ripped to shreds.

Why did this happen to her? Simply because she wouldn't let go of her purse! All she had to do was let go! But she wouldn't do it - and it cost her her life. I beg you this morning, "Let go of it!" Let go of anything that is dragging you away from Christ!

"Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was [dragged away by] much serving…And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:38-42).

Will you be dragged away from Jesus - or will you come to Him as Mary did? Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. Jesus rose physically from the dead, and ascended back to Heaven, where He is now seated on the right hand of God. Will you come to Jesus and let Him wash away your sins with His Blood? I pray that you will.

And one more thing. What will happen to you when you die if you go on being dragged away from Jesus? The Bible teaches that you will be dragged into Hell! That is an unpleasant thought - but it is the truth. Jesus said,

"The rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments…And he cried and said…I am tormented in this flame" (Luke 16:22-24).

I hope and pray that you will not be dragged down to Hell by the things that have been dragging you away from Christ. Throw off the things that are dragging you down and come to Christ. And do it now, this morning.

We are going to sing a song. While we sing, I am asking you to leave your seat and come up here in front of this pulpit. When you have come, Dr. Cagan will take you to my office upstairs. Then I will come up and you and I can talk about this, about you trusting Jesus and being washed from your sins with His Blood. You come, while we sing.

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 10:38-42.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"He Loves You Still" (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

THE OUTLINE OF

DRAGGED AWAY BY DISTRACTIONS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"But Martha was cumbered…" (Luke 10:40).

(Luke 10:38-42)

I.   You may be dragged away from Jesus by business or study,
Luke 14:19, 24.

II.  You may be dragged away from Jesus by lost friends or relatives,
Matthew 10:37; II Corinthians 6:14, 17, 18.

III. You may be dragged away from Jesus by various anxieties and
fears, Luke 10:41; I Peter 5:8-10.

IV. You may be dragged away from Jesus by the absence of feelings,
Revelation 19:15; Romans 3:24-25; Jeremiah 29:13.

V. You may be dragged away from Jesus by pride, Proverbs 16:18;
Obadiah 3; Psalm 73:6; Mark 9:43; John 3:36; Isaiah 66:24;
Luke 16:22-24.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."