Loving God and loving neighbor sometimes conflict. How do we choose the right priority?
Let’s begin to understand when loving our neighbor is loving God and when it is not.
Let’s recall the story of the Good Samaritan while we read the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42, to discover some priorities in loving God and neighbor.
Luke 10:38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
1. What Distracts Us?
Standing in line for communion, a lady’s cell phone went off. The pastor, having a little fun said, “Tell them that we don’t do takeout.”  Our lives are filled with distractions. Family, friends, job, school, television, internet, email, social networking, home maintenance, shopping: all distract us. Merchants distract us with a monotonous incursion of advertising hoping that their endless interruptions of our lives will return them an income. We go to church to get closer to God, but even there we can find distractions that can make a retired person forget to pray. Finding time to sit at the feet of the Master is a continual struggle. It takes self-discipline to turn off the media and listen to God.
 thanks to https://lectionarylab.com/
Are We too Busy for God?
In the Good Samaritan, the Priest and Levite were too busy loving God to love their neighbor. Martha was too busy loving her neighbor in preparing food, to love God by listening to Jesus. Do we love God in faithful church attendance, prayer, Bible study, tithes, offerings, meditation and occasional fasting? We cannot neglect either loving God or loving neighbor.
Why are we Here?
There are so many jobs involved in running a church that we easily get distracted from the reason we are here. All the jobs are important. However, sometimes we can become so busy doing God’s work that we don’t take time for God. No job ought to prevent us from a very important task: sitting at the feet of Jesus.
2. Do we Really Love God?
Martha, Martha! We may smile as we remember the words. We have all been Martha, men and women too busy to sit at Jesus’ feet, too preoccupied for prayer, too distracted for church, too engrossed to read our Bibles. Many things can distract us from loving God. The story of Martha may be the other side of the coin to Proverbs 24:30-34. I walked by the field of the servant of God. It was covered with weeds and its walls were broken down. A little extra Bible study and a little more time at Jesus’ feet and some maintenance is not so important. It isn’t always laziness. The story of Martha puts loving God in it’s proper priority, first.
Are we Obsessive-Compulsive?
There are so many rules to follow that our world has become obsessive-compulsive. The stressful overload has forced us all to become this way in order just to survive in the modern world. We are modern slaves to endless regulations. Where does Jesus fit into this? Do we take time to escape the rat race and rest at Jesus’ feet?
Where are We Between Jesus and Our Neighbor?
In our story of Martha and Mary we see Jesus placed in an awkward position between two sisters. Sometimes a third party can contribute wisdom and a solution to a conflict. Jesus balanced out the Good Samaritan story. Loving a neighbor is good. Loving God has a higher priority. Helping the injured Jew was an emergency. Preparing a meal is not.
So, the difference between loving our neighbor in the story of the Good Samaritan and the story of Mary and Martha is that one was an emergency and the other was not. How high a priority is church attendance in our lives? Do we love Jesus enough to temporarily put aside our loving service to others and sit at his feet?