Luke 10:41-42 (the message)
The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it — it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.
So Jesus is traveling around with His disciples and they enter the village where these two sisters, Mary and Martha, live. Many of you are already like, yes I know about Mary and Martha. We are supposed to be like Mary but get real there are things to get done! But for the sake of my post…
Jesus is invited to Mary and Martha’s home. Martha welcomes Him in (she is the hospitality queen) and begins to scurry around the kitchen preparing a meal, etc. Now the annoying part is that Mary isn’t stressed out along with Martha, she just sits before Jesus, “hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen.” (Luke ch 10) I know you could go at this several different ways…Martha was “pulled” away, you have to make taking the time to sit at His feet a priority, etc. When Martha comes into the room with a huff and tells Jesus to make Mary help her, she gets the response in the verses above. Maybe it’s easy to see Mary as the more spiritual one, we think she just loved Jesus more or maybe we are secretly in agreement with Martha! We think, of course we would like to be like Mary but then who is going to make dinner? The disciples weren’t going to do it!
Here is what I think…once again I remind you I am just an ordinary person so this is coming from my personal experience. Maybe Martha didn’t know how to receive. Maybe Martha was a woman who had a difficult time swimming in the waters of grace. Maybe Martha loved Jesus just as much as Mary and in her mind running around in the kitchen preparing dinner was the way she would show Him. Perhaps Martha just could not wrap her mind around not “doing” something for Jesus. Martha was caught up in what she could bring to Jesus.
I get it. I have my “Mary Moments.” The times when I just kind of bask in the grace and love of God. Just sit and worship or listen. And really, those are the most refreshing times of my life…absorbing Jesus. But it’s so incredibly easy for me to drift into a place where the things I do for Him become my offering. Jesus doesn’t want or need me to bring any proof to Him that I love Him. Sometimes those “proofs” are nothing more than ways we gather a sense of importance.
I totally believe God has purposes and plans for us. He has work for us to do! But I truly believe that only one thing is essential…being near Jesus. Without His nearness, without my heart being rooted in His love, then all I try to “do” and “be” for Him comes up much less than it could have been. I end up dissatisfied and weary. Thankfully, He is patient and compassionate. He understands how easily we slide into “game on” mode and He gets left out of the mix. Even with our best intentions or eagerness to please Him, it falls short of supernatural joy and peace when the “stuff” becomes essential. One thing only is essential…being near Jesus. Every purpose, plan and work He has for us to do is to come from the overflow of our time at His feet. We have nothing to prove…we have nothing of ourselves worth offering…we can just show up and have a seat. We can lay our head in His lap and listen as He speaks to our hearts. We can receive from Him. We must receive from Him or all else we try to do is in our own strength and becomes a weight we carry.
Jesus is the weight-lifter. The burden-bearer. Jesus longs for us to let go of all we must prove in our efforts to please Him. He love us and reaches out to us with such amazing grace. See, it’s so hard for us to accept that it’s okay to choose to sit at the feet of Jesus over all of the “to do” list items, even on our list of Spiritual Musts. We can’t comprehend a world in which our worth is not constantly measured by some work or production in our lives…some badge or label we can wear that proves we have value. For some it’s a string of letters behind their name that indicates their level of education and achievement. For some it’s the bumper sticker, volunteer hours, or home-made baby food that screams “at home mom.” For some it’s the label on their clothes or the size on the tag. For some it’s the right car, neighborhood or club. For some it’s the acknowledgment of their service at church. I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with achievement, volunteering, acknowledgment or having nice cars or homes! What I am suggesting is that when those things become essential and we start fitting God in around them, then we are living Martha lives. I think God loves to see fruit in our lives from our service and commitment, but I think His heart for us is that we keep Jesus the One who is truly essential to all else in life.
You know why I write this today? Because I’m living it. As God has grown me and then added to His purposes for my time I realize how easy I could go from Mary to Martha. See, I was Mary. Not trying to get anywhere…just soaking up the presence of Jesus because His touch was healing my life. Over time, as He leads me in different ways I realize how easy it could be to let my worth, my identity, become tied up in things I do or gifts He has given me. Don’t let your identity, your worth, get sucked into your job, roles, talents, looks or anything else. Not even your service to God. He wants you. When He really has us, our hearts and motives, then all He asks of us can flow from His power and strength. Then we aren’t looking for the glory, the credit, the approval…because we have nothing to prove at the feet of Jesus.