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.” Luke 10:41-42 ESV
In raising two boys, my wife and I discovered that showing favoritism was the worst thing we could do. If one got a chocolate chip cookie a piece of pizza or an ice cream bar, then the other had to have the same or there was trouble. In the past when I read today’s passage I was puzzled because it seemed that Jesus was playing favorites. At first glance it seemed that He just liked Mary better. She was quiet and respectful while Martha was loud, pushy and just someone He tolerated. But nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus loved Mary and Martha both the same. Martha had a lot going for her. She was the one who had boldly invited Jesus to their house. She volunteered to feed not only Him but also His disciples. Jesus was in no way saying that Martha was a loser. Instead, He just pointed out that Mary had chosen what was better that day. So just what did Mary do?
First she began with the decision to put her full attention on Jesus. She watched as He came in their house and heard Him begin to teach and decided that no matter what anyone else thought, she wanted to hear what Jesus had to say. Maybe she had things she had been asked to do, but she laid aside her list of chores and sat quietly at the feet of Jesus. Then Mary followed up her choice by carefully listening to what He had to say. I confess that all too often I have come to my quiet time with a mind filled with things I need to do. Then I rush through my prayer and Bible reading so I can get to the “Important stuff.” But Mary decided that she didn’t have more important things to do later. She knew that Jesus would not be at her house for long and that while He was there she wanted to hear everything He had to say. When we pray, are we looking at our wrist watch, wondering about some activity to do later, or are we eagerly listening for what Jesus has to say today?
Last of all Mary decided to sit at Jesus feet no matter what other people thought. By sitting at His feet and putting her focus only on Jesus, she turned the focus of others on Him too. Martha never slowed down long enough to look at Jesus. In her frenzy of serving all Martha could see was that Mary was not helping. Martha had forgotten why she had invited Jesus in the first place. But Jesus still loved Martha and He tenderly corrected her, Martha – Martha was a phrase of endearment, not disdain. “Martha – Martha,” He is almost pleading; “open your eyes and see Me! I came to your house for you – not your food or your service, but for you! And Jesus is coming to your house and my house and a million million other homes today as well. He loves and cares for us even when we are weighed down with the worries of life and He still quietly points us to people like Mary in our life and says, “She has chosen that better part. It will not be taken away from her – but I want it for you too!”
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You. Isaiah 26:3 NLT
We live in a culture so completely soaked in information, entertainment and media of all kinds, that the slightest interruption of our internet leads to frustration, anger and even panic. The idea of what the Bible calls perfect peace seems far – very far away. Sensing the loss of peace, you may have already tried a media fast or even shut off your cell phone for a while. But just like fad diets, these attempts usually fail dismally and though they give us a momentary breath of peace they rarely lead to change. Today’s scripture points out that the true lasting peace we long for only comes from God. Ultimately victory in a culture of information and communication frenzy comes only by our connecting on the deepest level with Jesus Christ.
So how can I do that? Church services, while uplifting seem only like an island of safety a sea of turmoil. One step out of the sanctuary and I find myself pulling out my cell phone to check for messages or missed calls. So here is a word of advice. Start with small steps like enlisting the help of a friend (in my case my wife). Schedule prayer time and Bible study with that someone else on a daily basis so it doesn’t all depend on you. There is nothing shameful about needing others to walk by our side. Right away you will have conflicts as you readjust your use of time, but don’t give up. The perfect peace God has promised is worth it. As Pastor Rick Warren put it, “Keep moving forward. Even the snail reached the ark by persevering!”
I find as I grow older that I still don’t know the answers to the questions that I had when I was younger but am more at peace with not knowing. But I am discovering along the way that the Holy Spirit is helping me to begin asking some of the right questions.
I thought it might be helpful for others who also for one reason or another enjoy putting words together. If you are a Christian writer then we share a struggle with questions that are unique to that calling. Why am I writing? What are my motivations and goals? Money? Notoriety? Guilt? Loneliness? If we had x-ray vision and could see into hearts we might find out that some books we enjoyed reading have been born from motivations we never imagined. This morning I was touched when I came across this passage from the Apostle Paul as he invites us to look over his shoulder and peer into his writer’s heart.
Take a moment and let his words sink in and then ask yourself as I did today; “Are my words really born out of my own tears and personal experience? Do I really care about my readers or am I simply vying for their attention? Do I have a heart of love for my readers and are my goals for their good or is it all about me?”
Those are hard questions but I am convinced that finding the answers is more than worth the time and effort. What about you? What kinds of questions are you struggling with today? May you truly have a blessed week as you seek the Lord and write as He gives you stories to tell and words to say.