38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.
39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
40 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!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,
42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (NIV)
Beginning with this post, and going for the next three posts, it is my intention to discuss in detail the sin of pride which I find resides in my own heart. Today, I begin with the pride of believing that I am more committed to my Christian walk than other people around me. I am likewise guilty of being proud that I think that I am more committed to church than other people around me. In the past, I have looked down upon those people who missed a Sunday morning worship service or did not come to church on Wednesday night. Why could not everyone commit to church three times a week like me? I thought I was better than those people who were not serving on three or four different committees. But what I find upon reflection is that I was proud of being over-committed and committed to the wrong things. And that reminded me of the story from the Bible which is related in Luke 10:38-42. It is the story of two sisters – Mary and Martha – and what Jesus thinks of being distracted by being over-committed and committed to the wrong things.
Martha was a great servant. When she opened her home to a band of hungry and weary travelers, she was immediately aware of the preparations that needed to be made. There was food to be cooked, places to sleep to be made. But what we find is that Martha became mad at other people because of her serving. She became mad at her sister Mary for not helping. She became mad at Jesus for not making her sister help. Look at the words of Martha at the end of Luke 10:40. “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (NIV)
What is it that made Martha so mad in this story? Was it because she had to cook? No, it didn’t appear that she minded doing the preparations. Was it because no one said thank you? No, she never mentioned the lack of credit given to her. Was she mad that Jesus and his disciples were not helping? No, they were guests in her home and not expected to work. Was she angry that Mary was getting to spend time with Jesus while she was not? That may be getting closer to the answer, but not quite there yet. She was mad because someone she thought was on her level was not also serving the way she was serving. I find that same attitude in my heart. It is the sin of pride. It is my desire that everyone else around me live up to my standards and my convictions.
In these verses we see a contrast between Mary and Martha. Martha was proud of her service to the Lord Jesus. But Mary found something different in Jesus that Martha did not see because of her over-commitment and her commitment to the wrong things. Let’s see what Mary found in Jesus that Martha did not.
First, Mary found a place to calm her worries at the feet of Jesus. Jesus tells Martha that she is worried and upset about many things, while Mary is sitting in stillness at the feet of Jesus.
Second, Mary found a place to get food for her soul at the feet of Jesus. Martha was distracted in preparing physical food for the visitors, Mary was getting food for her soul at the feet of Jesus.
Third, Mary found a place to focus her priorities at the feet of Jesus. Martha was upset about many things, but Jesus tells her that only one thing is needed. What was the one thing that was needed? Jesus doesn’t tell her directly. But I have a feeling that Jesus would have told her the same thing he told the crowd gathered on the day that he spoke the Sermon on the Mount “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 NIV)
Fourth, Mary found a place of service at the feet of Jesus. It may have looked like Martha was doing all the serving, but Jesus says that Mary chose what was better.
Fifth, Mary found a place of eternal reward at the feet of Jesus. In our view, Martha should get the Good Housekeeping reward for entertaining Jesus and the twelve disciples, but Jesus tells her that what Mary has gained at his feet will never be taken away from her.
But I hear someone out there saying, “If I don’t do the work, it will never get done.” Granted, that may be true. But if you heard me say “Don’t do the work,” then you heard me wrong. Let me re-phrase what I said:
Don’t be proud of your work, be proud of your Savior that you are working for.
Don’t be over-committed to your work, be committed to the Savior that you are working for.
Don’t look down on others because they don’t work like you do, look up to the Savior you are working for.
Don’t be worried about your work if something’s not going quite right, rest in the peace of the Savior you are working for.
Don’t be a slave to your work, be a slave to the Savior who you are working for. It may be that he has something better for you to do. It could be he just wants you to sit at his feet and learn today.
By Berean Husband