“…only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)
“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made…” (Luke 10:40)
Several times in the last few years, I have heard the era in which we are currently living referred to as “The Age of Distraction.” This makes a lot of sense, given the plethora of media outlets, electronic devices, entertainment venues, and various industries that thrive by filling our spare time anything and everything to keep us busy doing something and nothing all at once. It’s no wonder that it has become so difficult to get young people – or anyone for that matter – to focus on important issues.
But the truth is, the world has always had plenty of distractions to divert our attention away from God and what He wants us to be spending our time doing. Honestly, it doesn’t take a whole lot. Our sinful nature makes us predisposed to putting God last and a million other things first. The issue here is the first commandment; giving our fear, love, and trust – as well as time, money, and attention – to God first.
It’s scary how easily we can slide down the slippery slope of idolatry. The most frightening part is that this can even happen as we are trying to serve God. We may feel justified in saying, “Well, I’m on the church council, teach Sunday School, serve refreshments after the service, and head up the altar guild; so I don’t think God will mind if I forget to read my Bible or talk to Him in prayer once in a while.”
But is that what Jesus wants? “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). In your walk with God, remember that He is primarily concerned with you. He wants you to attend worship services so that He can work on you, not the other way around. In His house, you sit and listen to the life-giving words of our Lord Jesus Christ, just like Mary. You receive His body and blood through the sacrament of Holy Communion. You receive the forgiveness of sins and are absolved of your trespasses. God strengthens and preserves us in His Word. We praise and serve God out of love and thankfulness to Him only after receiving the good gifts that He serves to us – otherwise we fall into the trap of trying to earn His favor by our own good works.
Martha certainly had good intentions. However, the results of her efforts should have tipped her off the dangers she was facing. Jesus came to bring peace and joy; Martha’s service caused her only to be “worried and upset.” When we find that our own service to God is producing anxiety, resentment, or frustration in our hearts, we’d better take a time-out and sit down with Mary. Listen to the Savior’s healing words. Believe His promises. Grow in the knowledge of His love; then return to your service, refreshed and invigorated, ready to serve Him with gladness and thanksgiving.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to fear, love, and trust in You above all things. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation through the power of Your Word. Help me to serve You with a cheerful heart; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Lord. Amen.