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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#1034. Balance in ministry (15/4/24)

This week, in our Luke series, we pick up with the account of Mary and Martha. Today, let’s briefly consider how this account teaches us about the need for balance. 

‘As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  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!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”’ (Luke 10:38-42) 

Lesson: Are we balanced in our devotions, and practical service, as God wants us to be?

To listen to this devotional, go to:

Why does Luke include this account after The Parable of the Good Samaritan? I can’t help but believe that the example of Mary and Martha, which stresses the importance of learning from Jesus,  acts as a balance to this parable that emphasises the need for practical acts of compassion. There is always a danger of extremes; we can become so fixated with practical good works that we forget to rest, learn and pray; at the other extreme, we can use worship and devotion as an excuse from being a ‘good Samaritan’ through acts of mercy. In this account, Martha is rather like the good Samaritan in her focus on practical service. We must beware of becoming a Martha-ish version of a good Samaritan who loves to serve through action whilst failing to value and come to the source of grace - to Jesus and His Word. In Ecclesiastes, we read of the need for balance:

‘Do not be over-righteous, neither be over-wise— why destroy yourself? Do not be over-wicked, and do not be a fool— why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.’ (Ecclesiastes 16-18) 

I’m sure we’ve all met those whom we feel to be unbalanced. Maybe they are overflowing with spiritual jargon and stories whilst their lives are a mess. Alternatively, we meet those who are full of practicalities around work, health, finances… but they seem to lack time alone with God. Are we balanced in our service to Christ? Do we worship and learn from Christ, and is this spilling over into good works and service? 

In regard to our church community, do we go to a church but fail to serve her practically? Is our worship and learning with the church matched by our service, such as giving generously and serving on a team? 

In regard to our work, do we treat our work as serving Christ or is it just something that has to be done - at interruption to ‘true worship’? Do we seek to be filled with God’s Word and Spirit so as to do our work or studies for the glory of God? 


Are we balanced in our devotions, and practical service, as God wants us to be? Are we so wrapped up in being a ‘good Samaritan’ or a ‘helpful Martha’ that we are failing to be a ‘devoted Mary’ and sit at Jesus' feet to learn from Him and meet with Him? Are we idolising the practical? At the other extreme, are we failing to serve others and the church because we are only focussed on the devotional life?  Pray that God would give you both a heart to worship and hands to serve. 



1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

Please ensure that the members of your group are aware and familiar with using the daily devotionals, which are accessed in Church News, the Teaching button on the website and are now available on the major podcast platforms. 

2. Icebreaker

How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you? 

3. Worship together

Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another.

4. Study and pray together

Our message from our series in Luke on Sunday, based upon Mary and Martha from Luke 10:38-42. This narrative follows on from The Parable of the Good Samaritan, and I trust that we can see the similarities between the Samaritan and Martha; Luke, it seems, does this as a balance to teach us that practical love is very important, but it’s vital that our practical love and service flow out of our devotional life. Luke uses this narrative to, again, emphasise the need to listen to Jesus.  

Please read Luke 10:38-42, and discuss: 

  • Did God speak to you about anything specifically from Sunday’s message?

  • What does Jesus reveal as the most important thing for every one of us? 

  • Let’s review a few ways that Luke has already been emphasising listening to Jesus; read: Luke  6:49, 8:15, 8:18, 8:21, 9:35. Why is listening to Jesus so important? 

  • What distractions and less important things distract you from sitting at Jesus’ feet in prayer and the Word? 

  • What’s your current devotional habit? When, where and what do you do? Or, what plan would you like to start? (Using our Come to Jesus Daily Devotionals, would be a helpful addition). 

  • SIV - Why will following Mary’s exam

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Apr 16

Missing part of bible study "SIV - Why will following Mary’s exam"

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