Thursday, August 9, 2018
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 1 Corinthians 4:20
Every day, God speaks to us. Sometimes He invites us to draw close and listen as He reveals Himself, His character and His direction. Other times He calls us to participate in His purposes. Still other times He simply whispers, reminding us of His amazing love for us.
The story of Mary and Martha has come to me many, many times over the past few months. You know Mary, the sister who sits at Jesus’ feet and listens while Martha, the other sister, is slaving away in the kitchen making preparations for the big dinner.
38-40 As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”
41-42 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.” Luke 10:38-42 (MSG)
I’ve been spending a lot of time in prayer and contemplation about why this keeps showing up in my devotions and conversations and I believe I have part of the answer.
I always thought Jesus was sort of chastising Martha; He was telling her that Mary was right and she was wrong. And in The Message version of the Bible that’s what he says, she is “worked up over nothing.”
But read this version…
38 As they went on their way, Jesus came into a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who was sitting at the Lord’s feet and was listening to his word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her serving. She came over and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.”
41 The Lord answered and told her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but one thing is needed. In fact, Mary has chosen that better part, which will not be taken away from her. Luke 10:38-42 (EHV)
Jesus is still sighing, do you hear it? “Martha, Martha…” In this version he tells her that “one thing is needed…there are parts…”
He isn’t saying one is right and one is wrong. He came for supper and he expects to have supper. It will come and go. It won’t last forever. But it’s important. They will sit together and continue the conversation through the supper.
But the part that Mary is focused on – the conversation, the words from and with Jesus – that’s going to last forever.
I’ve come to understand that it’s not one or the other; it’s both. One produces the other. And the other is the most important part.
If Martha hadn’t invited Jesus to their house, the family would not have come to be such close friends with him. They wouldn’t have had the time and the intimacy to listen and hear him, to learn from him.
It wasn’t that what Martha was doing was wrong. It just wasn’t the most important part. Jesus said it, “You’re only going to have me for a little while.” It wasn’t BE or DO. It was BE and then DO. There is a time for each.
Phil Cooke says, “Throughout the Bible, it’s interesting that before the Lord calls us to “Do” he calls us to “Be.” The scriptures remark about the righteousness of men like Abraham and Noah before it tells the stories of what they accomplished. Certainly they stumbled from time to time – we all do that – but their primary concern wasn’t accomplishment, it was their relationship with God.”
Who you are is far more important in the eyes of God than what you accomplish.
So, my lesson from this story and my summer is this:
God is telling me that I need to spend more time at Jesus’ feet … I need to be more Mary. The time will come to be Martha.
Message received, Lord.
Make it a GREAT day!