Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village.
And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.
And she had a sister called Mary,
who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.
But Martha was distracted with much serving.
And she went up to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?
Tell her then to help me.”
But the Lord answered her,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,
but one thing is necessary.
Mary has chosen the good portion,
which will not be taken away from her.”
How many of us can literally identify with Martha in this story from the life of Jesus? These were close family friends. But Martha had difficulty enjoying her time with Him. She couldn’t just sit with Him like Mary did and enjoy what He had to say.
She was “distracted with much serving”. I don’t think it is talking about simply serving a meal and being done with it. I think it is talking about making a production out of it and expecting everyone else to join in when all they wanted to do was visit with Jesus and hear what He had to say.
Could it be that Martha was using her serving gifts in ways that weren’t helping or serving?
but were distracting others from the point of her service?
Jesus didn’t tell Martha not to make the meal,
He told her not to be anxious, distracted and troubled by it!
Do you have friends or relatives like that? Maybe you are one of those people? You don’t want a big fancy production of a meal. You just want something simple to eat that you can visit over, clean up easily and get back to visiting. Because you want to catch up with the person or people present!
I’m not sure Martha was into that. The meal can never be simple. The event can never be simple to set off the speaker or the people who need to get together to meet and talk. It always has to be complicated and made into a big production.
The interpersonal relationships along the way get trampled underfoot. By the time the food is served, the people who have worked with you are having difficulty looking you in the eye. They are worn out by your controlling ways. Did every last detail have to be carried out that way? Couldn’t you have let some of it go in the name of simplicity? Did tradition or your personal preference or “etiquette” have to rule the date in every decision?
Sometimes the meal or event isn’t the primary thing…
the guest of honor is.
Sometimes the meal or the event is not the primary thing. Sometimes it is the means to the end. The way those doing the meal or preparing the event set the tone has a direct effect on the event or meal itself. Have you ever thought about occasionally making a recipe with less ingredients or steps that tire you out beforehand? Instead of having a flustered, tired you that is unpleasant to be around? Or having a part of the meal that would be graded B+ instead of A+ but a more pleasant you?
It is all still very tasty and above average but you aren’t worn out. You have time to enjoy your guests without spending all your time in the kitchen. Or maybe asking friends to bring different parts of the meal so all of you can enjoy the meal when you are together. It may not “match” perfectly, but they all feel part of it and maybe that is the important thing?
Wasn’t that the point Jesus was making? Mary realized that at this meal, the important thing was the guest and not the food. The focus needed to be on the guest instead of focusing on the food and all the details. They could eat a simple meal, not a feast!
He didn’t say there shouldn’t be any food, just not the distraction from much serving…the kind that was causing Martha anxiety and being troubled…about many things.
It helps to realize who you are working for…GOD,
who sees what you do, how you do it and rewards you later,
or yourself, who wants the applause now!
For me, it was learning to not over-schedule to please other people. That helped a lot! Learning to say, “No, I’m sorry. I won’t be able to serve there. But I would be glad to help here if you need it.” It helped me keep from agreeing to do jobs I knew I wasn’t fit for…or able to do without a lot of added stress!
Basically, the only one that will know your motivation will be you and probably your spouse. Maybe your kids will know too. Of course, GOD will know. Your actions won’t be a lot different. But you will enjoy the things you do because they will come from a joyful, serving heart that is doing them with a motive of love for Christ, not obligation. (Realistically, the motives tend to be mixed, but GOD works more of that out it seems.)
It makes a huge difference.
Will you find perfect success all the time? NO. We are broken people who live in a broken, fallen world. There will be times you will mess up and fail your family, the Lord, the people around you. Then you find forgiveness and grace in Christ again…as Mary and Martha did as well.
But when I read this passage, I was touched with how normal their struggles were compared to ours. Over all these years, things haven’t changed all that much have they?
Stop and think about some of the things you do
that could be causing anxiety and a troubled heart
because you are distracted by making a big deal out of
or by trying to impress other people instead of trying
to please GOD!
Join me tomorrow for Part II of this post.
I know, this is longer than my normal Sunday #GiveMeGrace. It just flowed from my reading…and be glad I continued it to tomorrow:)