What is the reason for our daily service to our Lord Jesus? What brings us to our office and place of ministry each day? Is it an obligation arising from what Jesus has done for us? There is a question that pricks my mind, “Is it possible to serve the Lord out of habit rather than out of love?”
Luke 10:38-42 gives us a story that takes place in Bethany. This was where Lazarus lived with his two sister, Mary and Martha. This home had hosted Jesus many times and where he was loved and accepted. Both sisters are delighted to see Jesus but their delight in seen in different ways. People have different temperaments - some are active always needing to be busy, never able to sit still. Others, like me, are thoughtful, willing to sit back and think things through before acting. Martha was a very activity-oriented person but her sister appears to have more of a thoughtful nature. I believe that many times when we reflect on this passage, we end up with a false dichotomy. We believe every Christian has to make the choice – to be a worker like Martha or a worshipper like Mary. However, I believe that misses the point. I believe Christ would want us to imitate both the good points of Mary and Martha in a good balance.
Mary is content to sit at Jesus’ feet soaking up the Word, and being still before him. There is nothing wrong with that. Martha obviously was a great hostess. To make her guests feel welcome, she would prepare a meal for them. It’s a privilege to cook a meal for the Master. Is one right and the other wrong? No! Duty and Devotion are both necessary but there must be a balance.
Every action and every relationship has a basic focus. If it loses its focus, it will fail. Look at the MRT. It lost its focus – from moving people to retail. If we follow the Commission of Inquiry, I believe that is the only logical conclusion to come up with. When we lose our focus, we run into trouble.
Martha lost her focus and so she resorted to self-pity. V40 says - “But Martha was distracted…” The word “distracted” means “to be dragged away.” Maybe Martha wanted to sit beside Mary and wanted to hear Jesus herself but she was dragged away by her sense of her “duties.” Anxiety over the meal has robbed her of the joy of her service to the Lord. I visit people at their home and sometimes I have to tell them to come and sit down and fellowship with me rather than serve goodies after goodies. We should be responsible but we should not let it be the benchmark for our importance. The problem was not Martha’s work but her attitude. She did not have a balance between doing and listening.
That may well be our challenge today. We become so busy with the everyday things of life that we neglect the most important. People believe that modern inventions like smartphones and IPads, we will be able to save more time. In fact, it’s the reverse. We have less and less leisure time. I look at our church people and I can see most of them are overworked. They work too many hours. Stephen Covey once said, “People expect us to be busy, overworked. It’s become a status symbol in our society – if we’re busy, we’re important; if we’re not busy, we’re embarrassed to admit it. Busyness is where we get our security, it’s validating, popular and pleasing, it’s also a good excuse for not dealing with the first things in our lives.”\
What is the focus of our lives? Is it not our relationship with Christ? Is it not to grow as disciples of Christ? Feeding our families, maintaining our jobs, promotions, etc., all these are very important. But they must be balanced by things of the Spirit and God’s Kingdom. So the question God is asking us is “What about you?” Where is your focus at this time? Are we building our lives and giving ourselves over to non-essentials – things that are here today but tossed out tomorrow?