“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he said. 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 all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:38-42
I have always found this story interesting because both Martha and Mary’s intentions were good. Mary’s were just better. Martha wanted to provide Jesus with a nice time while he stayed at her house. She had an elaborate meal planned out and it took a lot of time to prepare. In modern day terms, probably a turkey with all the fixings and a beautiful table setting complete with perfectly ironed table linens. Her house was probably very clean and pleasing to the eye. She was probably dressed fairly fancy and looked well put together. Wanting to be a good hostess is a good thing, but in the kingdom of God, there are a lot more important things. Mary understood that. She sat with the guest of honor at his feet, hanging on his every word. She listened to him and desired to learn from him. She was still before him.
In our culture, productivity plays a huge part. We strive to be what we call “productive” with our days. We constantly fill our time with activities that seem good outwardly, but really have little purpose in building up the kingdom of God. In fact, they are distractions. We as women especially can fall into this, but it is not limited to women. How much time do we spend pursuing activities that will make us feel worthy, or help us to feel like we measure up to people around us? We are consumed with our appearances, our homes, our belongings, our interests, our abilities and much more, just so that we can feel a sense of worth. In this passage of scripture, Jesus is saying that, while our intentions may be good, there are much more worthy things we could do with our time and attention.
In the church, this is a problem today. We spend so much time trying by our own human means to build up the new ministries, to make church appealing to those who come in, and to look like we have got it all together. How much time do we spend being still and seeking the Lord? Do we ever just sit at his feet and listen and worship him when we know there is something else we could be doing? I have always been a slight perfectionist. When I first came to know the Lord, I struggled with this concept. I wanted to jump right in and “do church”. I wanted to instantly get involved, help greet people, help with coffee, and many other things that you do in church. God showed me that these things are all meaningless if I didn’t spend that time in his presence, at his feet, listening, being still.
We cannot build up God’s Kingdom by our own human efforts. We need His guidance and direction. We need to set aside our own desire to measure up to a human standard, and want to measure up to his standard. And his standard doesn’t have anything to do with acts or deeds. (see Ephesians 2:8-10) He wants our love and our devotion to him. (Matthew12:30). Through this time spent with Him, He will show us what is important and worthy in building up His kingdom. He will show us that He loves us and that we don’t have to try and measure up to be loved by him. He simply wants our time and our attention.
Lord, thank you that you love me unconditionally. Give me revelation of your love for me. Help me to know that I don’t need to “do” anything by my own means to try and please you. I want to sit at your feet and worship you. Help me to put those things that don’t need to be done out of my mind to pursue a greater purpose, your purpose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.