Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Mary and Martha
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."
At the beginning of this passage, it sounds like Martha's doing a great job. She welcomes Jesus into her home; she is working hard to be a good hostess to Him. But then she turns and sees her sister doing something that she decides doesn't count as doing anything: listening to Jesus. So she goes to Jesus and tries to tell Him what to do. Jesus doesn't respond the way she wanted, but He does respond with compassion. He implies that her priorities might not be where they should be, and He definitely refuses to rebuke Mary for sitting at His feet and listening to Him.
When we were talking about this in a manuscript Bible study (yeah, this is one of those posts I meant to do about a month ago), I took a lot of comfort from it for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it seemed to imply that "worried and distracted by many things" was not God's will for us as a lifestyle. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being busy!!--it might be a difference in attitude and priorities more than in the level of business. Also, in a certain area of my life this past year I have felt like I simply didn't "do" enough, and honestly, maybe I didn't, but it is still comforting to think that maybe the number of things one *does* is not an appropriate measure of success.
As a direction rather than as a comfort, the strongest angle that I saw was a question of priorities or even chronological order. Which is more important (or comes first) in serving God--listening to Him or running around looking for things to do? Obviously, doing things is truly an important part of serving Him, but maybe us going around doing stuff (even in a true attempt to serve Him) isn't necessarily serving Him. Maybe the first thing to do is always to listen to Him and pray and then serve Him according to His leading, according to His will rather than our ingenuity and energy.
I guess the lesson would be how very very important it is to spend time regularly in the presence of God, reading His word, listening to Him, praying, seeking guidance. The week that I was first thinking about that in reading that passage, I actually was spending a lot of time in that, and it was very good. This is not to say that I am still being good about it, but I guess that's why I wanted to write this, as a reminder.