One of the most beautiful and intimate stories in the Bible is found in Luke 10:38-42. This story reflects the dilemma that I have in my life and that many others who desire to live for Jesus may have. In this story a lady named Martha invites Jesus to her home. How awesome is it to have Jesus personally come to your home? In actuality that is what He does when we invite Him into our hearts. He comes and dwells within us through the Holy Spirit. In this story you can tell that Martha has a heart for Jesus. In fact, she is so glad that Jesus came to her home, she welcomed Him and proceeded to do everything within her home to make Jesus feel comfortable. Martha became so consumed with doing for Jesus, a good thing, that she got derailed from something even better than doing for Jesus. She exchanged being with Jesus for doing for Jesus. Doing for Jesus was a good thing but being with Jesus was better.
Why am I writing about this particular story? I see a parallel in this story to where I am in my life today and possibly where some of you struggle. There is something within me that wants to DO. There is something within me that doesn’t seem to be able to stop doing. My mind continually comes up with things to do. They are all good things but they pull me away from the best thing. I get so caught up in good things that I have very little time for the best. In America, we are privileged to have access to so many things. The more things we get the more things there are for us to get and to get into. I’m not even considering bad things, though they pull at us as well. For example, I struggle with immersing myself in a demanding job and being excellent at it, as opposed to involving myself in a greater capacity in ministry. My heart truly aches- to do better in my job can mean less time in ministry, less time in discipleship, less time in so many things that are eternal. Is there anything else? Of course there is! At this point in my life I’m turning sixty. I realize that my time is much shorter. I want to finish well. What’s preventing me from finishing well? I have things to do.
So then how can I rectify this dilemma, this hurting that’s in my heart? First I must remember that just because I am doing in ministry doesn’t necessarily mean that I am being all that Christ wants me to be. I am loved by Jesus. I am accepted in Him, yet there is a deep aching and yearning in my heart to reciprocate all that He has done for me. I want to do something for Him. What can I do? Jesus told Martha to take a cue from Mary. “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)
Maybe you and I can take some cues from Mary that will help us to not get so distracted by doing good things. First we must learn to focus on the best and not get distracted by the good. Martha wasn’t wrong by any means in what she was doing and neither are we. For all the good things that we do, keeping the house inside and out, taking kids to games and spending time with family, watching sports, working extra and so forth are all good things. Only one thing is necessary- that we spend time with Jesus. The good things derail us from serving well. The good things derail us from giving our all. The good things capture people like you and me and hold us hostage to doing and accomplishing as we neglect the sweet fellowship found in the presence of Jesus. The psalmist David said this- “One thing I have desired of the Lord and that I will seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my living.” David was a king with no doubt hundreds of things to do every single day, yet somehow he was able to choose the best thing, and that was spending time with Jesus. How was David able to focus? He probably did what Peter instructs us to do, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Some things we must by faith give over to Jesus.
Secondly, we must concentrate on doing a few things well and be at peace with letting other things go. This dilemma has created an emotional train wreck in my heart. In writing this, my heart cries “Hypocrite” all day long because so many good things derail me from the best. How in the world can I counsel you?! Letting go of the good is a faith step in the transformation process. For me doing good things seems to be a stronghold in my life that crept in somehow over time. Jesus said this- “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation for the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26:41) Maybe in my involvement in ministry, in people’s lives, and in trying to live out the gospel in everyday living I failed to watch the temptations from every aspect of my own personal life. I’ve probably been keeping a watchful eye for the sinful things but I probably never thought about the good things being temptations that can derail me from the best.
Help me Holy Ghost! I can’t go on!