“My soul, wait in silence for God alone, for my hope is from Him.”
Does this conversation sound familiar? “How are you?” we ask…the answer? “Busy! We are so very BUSY!!!” We have all said it, and most of us wear our busyness like a badge of honor, validating our worth. Busyness is one of the hallmarks of our culture. We struggle with balancing our lives between our responsibilities and obligations and time to be quiet and rest; between frustration and anxiety and peace and confidence. But do you ever wonder at the end of a day what you have actually accomplished?
Luke 10 tells us the story of two sisters with struggles much like ours. Jesus was welcomed into the home of Martha who threw a dinner ‘party’ for Him. Her sister Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to His words. We can imagine all of the work for Martha as the hostess! Luke tells us that she was distracted with all of her preparations, so she approached Jesus with a request/complaint. Didn’t He care that Mary had left her with all of the work? Tell her to get up and help!!! We all relate, don’t we? I know that I have had similar thoughts. But Jesus’ response is instructive. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered by so many things.”
Let’s talk about you, Martha! Jesus focuses on the manner in which Martha was serving, on her heart attitude. She was serving the Lord and serving her guests, yes; but she was distracted, worried and bothered. She was not resting in her relationship with her friend and Lord, leaning on His strength, serving with love and joy. Her relationship with Him was not primary. Her work had no eternal value. It would be taken from her on judgment day. Mary, on the other hand, had chosen her relationship with her Lord as her very favorite and valued treasure. Her service, seen later in John 12, flowed out of her heart of love and devotion to Him and would remain.
What about us? Is it possible to be busy, busy even with ‘Christian service’ and yet have done nothing of eternal value? Does our service flow out of our love for Him and out of our times spent in quietness with Him in His word, obediently listening as He speaks to us? Remember that Elijah did not hear the voice of the Lord in the strong wind or the mighty earthquake but in the gentle blowing of the wind. We need to take the time to be like Mary, quietly sitting at the feet of Jesus to listen for the gentle blowing of the Spirit of God as He speaks to us. Then as Paul says in Colossians 3, we will go forth in our service “with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Peter, when speaking of the exercise of spiritual gifts, says “whoever serves should do so by the strength which God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 4:11)
We see the two sisters again at another dinner party after the raising of their brother Lazarus. Martha is again serving, and Mary is again sitting at the feet of Jesus this time to anoint His feet with the precious nard. As the fragrance of her service fills the home, Martha who is serving out of a heart of love and gratitude has no rebuke for her sister.
May we learn from these two sisters.