Updated: Jan 7, 2021
“Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help.”
“The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and
troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her’” (Luke 10:40-42 TPT).
In a conversation with one of my sons yesterday, we were musing on the fact that decades and centuries and even thousands of years may come and go, but the nature of man does not change. People are still people. The story of Martha is a great example of that. Martha is conscientious, she wants to serve the Lord, she is working hard—and she is frustrated, judgmental, and angry, and not just at Mary. “Look Lord, I’m working hard here to serve you, and Mary is just sitting there. This is not fair—You should tell her to get up and help!”
How many times do we hard-working, conscientious, busy Christians look at how busy we are and start to think, “This is not fair! Why do I have to do everything! Other people need to step up!” Like Martha, we start to feel resentful and complain. Then we start to reprove the Lord: “Do something Lord! Tell my brothers and sisters to do what I want them to do!”
Oops. Did you notice our focus is on ourselves? “I feel called to serve you Lord, and I think it’s only right that You make others serve You, too! And in the way I want them to serve You!”
The One Thing Most Important
I suspect more of us are Marthas than Marys. I know it’s something I wrestle with! We are so busy doing we don’t have time to sit at the feet of Jesus. “I’ll get with you when I have more time, Lord!” we promise. But what does Jesus want? Jesus seems to be saying there is something even better than working for Him. He even calls it “the one thing most important.” What is that one most important thing? Spending undistracted time with Him. It’s a privilege to sit with our Savior, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, but it’s a privilege we often forfeit because of the well-meaning busyness of our lives.
It is appropriate to ask the Lord to “send more laborers” into the field. It is not appropriate for us to presume that we know exactly how a brother or sister is to serve the Lord and demand that the Lord make them do it. We are all commanded to “love the Lord thy God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourself;” but the Lord gives us different callings and different gifts to walk out these two greatest commandments.
No matter what our gift or our calling is, however, unless it is first supported by spending undistracted time with Jesus, sitting at His feet, our service will be of the flesh rather than the spirit. Men may be happy with our service, because at least the “job” is being done. But what about Jesus? Is He happy with such service? He called such service “distractions taking away from the one thing most important.” Wow. That’s certainly a different perspective!
Lest we think this is an excuse for our not being productive in the Kingdom of God, which is exactly where the great deceiver would take us, we do need to keep in mind that we are, indeed, called to do good works. We were created to do good works!
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
“…faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).
So, we are to do both—spend undistracted time sitting with Jesus AND serve Him, doing good works. Marys, who love spending time just sitting at the feet of Jesus, must at some point rise up, go, do, and serve. Marthas, who love doing and serving, must take time to just be still and sit the feet of Jesus. If we find we are getting resentful and angry because we are so busy serving the Lord, that’s a warning from Holy Spirit that we are not spending enough time sitting at the feet of Jesus and, possibly, we are doing things He has not called us to do. Jesus Himself found it necessary to spend a considerable amount of time communing with the Father. His time with the Father directed and gave power to His works. Make no mistake, if we spend time with Him, He will give us plenty to do, but it will be targeted, anointed, and bear eternal fruit! When we discover we are resentful when the Lord prompts us to rise up from our time with Him to go and serve others, the Holy Spirit is showing us our time with Jesus has become more about us than about Jesus. We're desiring our will, rather than His. Both Mary and Martha need to be led by the Holy Spirit.
If we don’t spend time with Jesus, we have nothing of eternal value to offer anyone. If we never share with others what Jesus gives us in our undistracted time with Him, we become a Dead Sea and the Spirit of the living God cannot flow through us to others. It is not one or the other; it is both that we need. What we do should be birthed by our time spent with Him.
As we let the Lord direct us to certain service, we must also let Him direct the service of others. Jesus and our brothers and sisters don’t need us Marthas judging and bossing them around and telling them what to do! We need to pray for one another and encourage each other to spend undistracted and focused time with the Lord, so that He can tell us all what to do. We need to support one another in the ministries, the service, and the good works He calls each of us to do. At times He may be calling one to work, and another to rest; one to come away with Him and another to go forth in His name. It is Holy Spirit who works in us. He knows what we need; He knows what the Kingdom needs; He knows God’s plans for us and for the Kingdom. As we let Him direct our paths, individually we are blessed and together we do the work of the Kingdom.
In these busy days leading up to Christmas it is harder than ever to take the time to just be with the One who is supposed to be the center of it all. The greatest gift we can give ourselves, our families, the Body of Christ, and the world is take care of the one thing most important, our relationship and intimacy with Jesus. From there, we will experience
Emmanuel, God with us, and the river of life will flow out of us to all.
God bless you. Have a blessed and wonderful time with Jesus!
Love, Hugs, and blessings,