Read His Words Before Ours!
We are a society of the Self-Made. We pride ourselves on being the DIY-ers.
We are those with a gritty, “git’er done” work ethic.
Accomplishment appeals to our ingenuity, our “pull ourselves up the bootstraps” mentality,
our self-sufficiency…..our pride.
Perhaps you, like me, have thought some of these, though we would never admit them out loud:
God helps the self-starters, builders and creators who are industriously solving problems.
The more we accomplish, the more valuable we are.
I accomplish more than anybody, therefore, I’m more valuable.
God probably likes industrious people better because we actually accomplish something, while others sit around and talk about it.
When I see my own thoughts on paper they sound terribly prideful,
mostly because they are.
While it’s true, our world is indebted to the industrious, we tend to take the very good, biblical premise of a strong work ethic and apply it just as intently to our spiritual lives as we do our physical lives.
And suddenly, we are off course.
Remember Martha and Mary in scripture? The two sisters had a squabble in our Lord’s presence about this very issue. Here’s a thumbnail sketch of it:
Martha is busily cooking, prepping for an event she is hosting. Mary is not helping, she is sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to His teaching. Martha is miffed; can’t Mary see there’s work to do be done?
How dare she sit on her backside when I’m slaving in the kitchen!
I’d love to sit at Jesus’ feet too, but someone has to clean and cook if anything is going to get done around here!
Clearly Martha feels superior to Mary in that moment; she’s busy and busy is best.
Finally, Martha’s outrage boils over. She asks Jesus to tell Mary to get off her duff and help in the kitchen. And then Jesus’ reply:
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things,
but only one thing is needed.
Mary has chosen the better thing that won’t be taken from her.” (Luke 10:39-42)
Besides the tender, yet straight-forward rebuke to Martha, the implication is that Martha was choosing the temporal things of life while Mary was choosing the eternal.
When we sit with the Lord, it forces us to slow.
There is absolutely nothing we can do to bring about better, other than just be.
Jesus commended Mary for her choice.
The implication for us is obvious as well. Rather than making sure we are “doing our part to show God we are serious” or “going half-way so God will do His part”, Jesus invites us to choose the eternal over the temporal.
Busy isn’t always better.
Sometimes Busy points to our self-reliance instead of our God reliance.
God’s glory is reflected best in our rest.
There once was a man, a king, who built a vast empire. Later his capital city would be listed among the seven wonders of the world. His work was grand and impressive, but this king’s boast was in the mightiness of his busy.
In the Old Testament writings of Daniel, we meet Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. Though he ruled a vast kingdom he was ruled by pride.
Daniel served in Nebuchadnezzar’s administration and one night the king had a weird dream. As the ancients believed the gods spoke through dreams, Nebuchadnezzar called for an interpreter.
Enter Daniel. God did speak in that dream. He told Nebuchadnezzar:
Your hubris will lead to your humiliation. I am God; not you.
I will relent if you repent.
If you repent, I will restore your honor.
A year of grace passed; Nebuchadnezzar did not repent.
Judgement fell as he strolled about his lavish gardens; within an hour he lost his sanity, and lived like a wild animal for seven years.
Finally, he repented; his honor was restored.
Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was built in spite of him and his busy-ness.
The super-apostle, Paul, boasted in his weakness, that Christ might be glorified.
…on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses…. for My (Christ’s) power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:5, 9)
The psalmist insists, if our work is done in our name and for our glory, it’s all in vain.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
And our sweet Martha was invited into a better that didn’t involve busy.
“Mary has chosen the better thing that will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)
To all the DIY-ers and Self-made sisters, a word from our Lord:
To meet God halfway, to attempt to pull our share of the load, is a mockery.
No one can do enough to please God, except for one, single, solitary thing:
And without faith it is impossible to please Him,
for whoever would draw near to God must believe
that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
That faith is found, and grown,
not in the busy, but in the being;
the being still. (Psalm 46:10)
Martha had the Incarnate Christ sitting in her living room,
yet she chose meal prep over Him.
It’s easy to cluck our tongues at Martha, wondering how she could trade such an eternal moment for cooking. However, anytime we believe we’re superior because we’re busier, and surely God must owe us, or certainly the Lord must be impressed by our busy, we’ve made Martha’s prideful error.
Anytime we choose the temporal over the eternal, we stand in Martha’s sandals and live in Nebuchadnezzar’s mad legacy.
Rest, sister, you have no need to impress the Almighty.
You can’t possibly succeed in that endeavor.
Instead, rest, and let Him to do the work of crafting your soul and bringing you rich life!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!