Steven Furtick - Help! I Have A Divided Mind
Inside each mind that is trying to listen to me today is a series of priorities trying to pull you in different directions. That's why I would say if you don't have to use your phone to write notes in church, don't. If you could write them down with your hand, do. Maybe this can be one place where you don't get pinged and binged and dinged and you're not swiping anything or "liking" anything. Maybe this can be one place where you don't have to get notified that nothing important is happening. Yet you don't really need your device, because you have your divided mind. That's the distraction factory: your mind. Not the person next to you, not the things that are waiting for you when you get back home. He said she was distracted. It wasn't her actions; it was her attitude.
I'm going to stay there so you don't start feeling bad because you're overwhelmed, so you don't start feeling guilty. I think guilt is the root of Martha's bad attitude in this passage, and I'll show you that. There are five characteristics, not of what is happening in the house but what's happening in Martha's heart and the movie in her mind. The first thing we see here is that Martha goes from managing the situation to manipulating the situation. The first thing that makes a bad movie in my mind is a spirit of manipulation. Manipulation is when I start holding the responsibility God has given me rightfully too tightly. Manipulation is a subtle shift.
When I care about something, and instead of caring about it and caring for it or caring about someone, I can easily find myself beginning to try to control something God has called me to care about. When you care deeply about something, it is very easy, without even knowing it, to slip into this Martha mindset where you find yourself doing the right things on the wrong level. We see that Martha has become manipulative in her approach here, because she tells Jesus what to tell her sister. This is classic manipulation. This is a very passive way to try to get her way. Some people manipulate with their words. Other people manipulate with their silence. My kids try this trick on me quite often. "Dad, will you please tell Mom that we need more time for Fortnite"? "No, as a matter of fact, I will not tell Mom that you need more time for Fortnite, because that is my wife and we are a team and we stand together and united and we are not a house divided. So don't bring your little manipulative spirit up on me like I'm going to choose you over my wife. I can't French kiss you. I can French kiss her, and if you think I'm going to lose points with her"?
I have my priorities straight. I know where my bread is buttered. Say it, Furtick. I think Martha is manipulating because she's being manipulated. I think she's being manipulated by something within her that needs everything to be just right. I think Martha had a script in her mind of how Jesus' visit needed to go. In the script in her mind of how Jesus' visit needed to go, the movie in her mind, she needs Mary here and Jesus here and the pots here and the pans here and the fish here and the chicken here. Jesus rolls with 12 guys up into her home in Bethany two miles from Jerusalem, and somebody has to make sure that something is on the table. Somebody has to manage this. I want to apologize for preachers who don't know what it's like in the real world, preachers who don't understand that if you're going to provide for your family, sometimes it's going to mean you might not be able to be in church every single weekend.
I understand. I understand this is a priority for you, but I understand you're not perfect. That manipulation that happens sometimes, even religious manipulation, can make you feel like you're never winning anywhere. One guy said one time… Let me do my country preacher. "Nobody ever said on their deathbed, 'I wish I'd spent more time at work.'" The whole church said, "Amen," and the whole church felt sufficiently crappy, and the whole church thought simultaneously, "I'm not on my deathbed yet, and right now my kids need braces. I might not say on my deathbed I wish I had spent more time at work, but when my kids need braces I might need a little money. If I'm going to get a little money, I might need to spend a little time at work. I'm very sorry that I cannot be the emotional provider and the financial provider".
Do you see what's happening? I'm getting distracted, and now I'm getting pulled, not between the good and the bad but between two good things. Guilt will manipulate you. It'll make you somebody you're not, and it'll make you start lashing out. You're not really performing over here, so now you want to put your guilt trip on somebody else. All of the preparations had to be made. This is the second attitude I see in Martha that I see in me: the spirit of obligation. It shifts so quickly. It's right here in the text. It says, "All the preparations that had to be made". Had to be. Obligation. "I've got to go to work". No, you don't. I'm serious. You don't have to. When the worship leader says, "Lift your hands," you don't have to. That was freedom for me. It was simultaneously challenging and comforting. I was going out the door one Saturday night to preach. I guess my attitude wasn't in the best place. In that moment, one kid wanted this and one kid wanted that, and they wanted me to see something.
I think Graham had built a fort in the woods. A fort in the woods is really cute on Friday, my day off, but on Saturday I have a sermon to preach. I think our kids need to see sometimes that they are not the center of the universe. (This is not a parenting seminar. Back to the text, Furtick.) All the preparations that had to be made. They had to be made. I was going out the door. I said, "I've got to go preach. I've got to go preach". God arrested me. The Holy Ghost just… I don't know how this works for you, but it stopped me in my tracks, and God said, "You don't got to go". I said, "Really"? "No, you don't got to go. Don't show up, and see if the world stops spinning". I want you to do something for me if you get a minute this week. I know you're busy, Martha, but if you get a second this week, write down everything you have to do. Make a big ol' list of responsibilities, every test you have to study for… You don't have to study. I'm going to tell you as your pastor. I don't know what your parents are telling you. I'm going to tell you. You don't have to study. You don't have to pass. You don't have to get a job. You don't have to live indoors when you're an adult and nobody is paying the bills anymore. You don't have to.
I think the spirit of obligation is the enemy of joy. What happens naturally is that things that used to feel like a great opportunity start to feel like an obligation. That's the way the Enemy gets Mary to start acting like Martha. I don't think this text is so much about two different women as it is about two different tendencies. I don't know about you, but the text said Mary and Martha lived in the same house. Well, in my mind, Mary and Martha live in the same heart. I find times where I'm like Mary, and I know what's important and I'm not going to be moved and I'm sitting in this moment and taking this opportunity and I'm grateful for what God has given me, and then all of a sudden, it comes out of nowhere. I don't even see it coming around the corner, this spirit of "got to," this spirit of "need to," this spirit of "have to".
The moment I start feeling the pressure, I have to remember the privilege. I don't got to do it; I get to do it. This is a privilege, people of God. We don't have to be in church. I didn't come to church today because I'll go to hell if I don't. I came to church today because he's worthy of my praise. I want to worship him. I want to glorify him. I want to in the deep places, in the recesses. In my heart of hearts, I want to give the King of Kings the praise he deserves. Please, don't ever come to this church because you've got to. Don't ever come here because you've got to. People trek in from Dansville to get here because they want to. Because I want to. "I want to cook that meal. I want to scrub those dishes. I want to wipe those countertops. God gave me the counters to have a top to put on it".
So I want to get to the place… I'm not there, but, Martha, stay back. I'm having a Mary moment. I'm sitting here because I get to. Don't interrupt me with your "have to". I want to. I get to. I'm going to. I'm about to. I'm fixin' to. I get to do it! Take 10 seconds and praise him like nobody is making you do it! If you don't want to, you don't have to, but if you're thankful that he called your name… I'm going to preach. I don't got to, but I'm going. After all, why is Martha so upset? It was her idea to host these people in the first place. This is going to help all of us who have let our sense of obligation, which really emanates from a place of genuine desire to be responsible, but it's not our responsibility that Jesus rebukes; it's our heart. It's not our hustle. He likes to see you make the most of your day, but don't sit there at your kid's game because somebody else sits at all their kid's games.
Some of y'all go to too many games. Drop that little mediocre soccer player off, and go do something you want to do. They probably won't score anyway. There's not going to be anything to video. (I'm playing.) "Martha, Martha, you're running around doing all this stuff. We'd rather you be here. We'd rather you be nice, and the food tastes bad. We're here to be with you". I don't think we believe that, so we have to do stuff for God. We can never believe he cares more about us than he does about it. So what happens is we judge others. Have you ever done this before?
Now we have a courtroom called social media where we can deliberate all day. "She thinks that actually looks good on her? She's too old to be wearing that. Somebody needs to tell her". That's what Martha said, "Tell her, Jesus. Tell her that dress is too tight. Tell her she's 53, not 15. Tell her". "Oh, I know they can't afford to be on vacation". What are you, their accountant? Be careful, because if you want to sit in the seat of judge, you'll end up the victim of your own judgments. The measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Then you might find yourself anxious, like others are judging you, but I wonder if you are a victim of your own decisions.