“But Martha was distracted with all her preparations: and she came up to Him and said, “Lord do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?”…the Lord answered…only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part.” (Luke 10:38-42)
In our walk with God, there are always subtle dangers lurking in the shadows attempting to get us off track. More often than not, it’s the little things, that in itself might be good, but in the end rob us of “the main thing.”
We see an example of this in the story of Jesus’ visit to Bethany to have a meal with his friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Martha was busily serving the meal while Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet anointing his feet with expensive perfume. Martha approached Jesus and and said, “Master, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me?”
Luke’s account of this event says that “Martha was distracted with all her preparations” (Luke 10). It wasn’t that Martha was doing something wrong, she was performing her job as host by serving the meal to her honored guest. But in doing something good she missed a divine moment. She could have been sitting at Jesus feet with her sister. This opportunity never passed her way again, for in a few days Jesus would suffer the cross.
Jesus told Martha, “only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part.” Jesus was not scolding her for doing her job as hostess, but He was reminding her that doing things for God is not what’s most important. In her busyness to do something good, she missed a historic and divine moment of sitting at Jesus feet and learning of Him.
In this story we learn of a subtle danger facing most of us in our endeavor to walk with God. We let “doing things for God” replace our devotion to Him. God wants our total devotion, surrender and abandonment. He wants us to “risk it all” for Him. He doesn’t want us to hold back anything for ourselves. He wants our time, talents, attention and our resources. All those things were given to us by God in the first place. But He wants us to give it all back to him in surrender. It’s not that God needs anything, it’s us that needs to learn the value of not placing anything or anyone ahead of Christ in our devotion.
Therefore, the normal Christian life is to be a radical life, one that includes absolute surrender and abandonment. Anything less and we are guilty of drawing on Him to simply satisfy ourselves.
When we gave our hearts to the Lord Jesus, we became a soldier of the cross. Soldiers are enlisted to do battle with the enemy, and our life is no longer our own. We are to be a living sacrifice, willing to pour out ourselves for the sake of the gospel.
So next time that you are compelled to “do something for God”, remember that He desires our devotion more than He wants our service. Thats because true service to God flows out of a life that is fully devoted and surrendered to intimacy with Christ.
Oswald Chambers says it best in his book My Utmost of His Highest,;
“ The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him. It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him. The goal of the call of God is His satisfaction, not simply that we should do something for Him. We are not sent to do battle for God, but to be used by God in His battles. Are we more devoted to service than we are to Jesus Christ Himself?”