Mary . . . sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. (Luke 10:39-40 ESV)
Mary and Martha both loved their Lord. Both were sold-out in their commitment to His service. But there was a huge difference in the two serving sisters: Mary knew when to exchange her service for devotion to the One she was serving . . . Martha did not. Within every child of God is some Mary and some Martha. Which one do you identify with more closely?
It is not uncommon for those who are sold out in service to their Savior to find themselves, at times, serving the service rather than the One they are serving. I must confess that I know this truth from personal experience. The old, sinful self is in a constant struggle against the new, Spirit-led self, even when we are engaged in service of our Lord. When the old self wins, the service becomes the end, rather than the means to the end, which is serving Jesus.
Mary and Martha had both been busily engaged in preparing a wonderful feast for Jesus and His companions. We know Mary was just as involved in the preparations as her sister was because of Martha’s urgent request to Jesus: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (Luke 10:40). This is the classic example of what it looks like when we slip from serving our Savior to serving our service.
Jesus beautifully and tenderly pointed this out to Martha:
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)
How easy it is for us to get caught up in Martha-like service! We can be so absorbed in our service that we completely forget to adore the One we are serving. Mary, on the other hand, knew when it was time to exchange serving her Lord for sitting at His feet. The message is clear: We must never let our devotion to our Savior be exchanged for our duty to serve Him. We must remember that the most important thing we can ever give to our Lord is what flows out of our hearts . . . not what passes through our hands. To be sure, we must never stop serving our Savior, but we must know when it is time to exchange service for sitting at His feet.
So . . . who are you most like? Mary or Martha? If your answer is “Neither,” it is time for some self-examination and time to actively engage in service to your Savior. I can assure you that if you approach the leadership team at your church and ask if you can volunteer some of your time, you will be met with open arms! “Many hands make light work.”
On the other hand, if you are a bit like Martha, remember, the greatest service you can offer to your Lord is to do what Mary did: she sat at His feet and worshiped.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!