“But Martha was distracted by much serving.” – Luke 10:40
Last Saturday night I found myself in a familiar place.
I feel like half my waking hours are in the kitchen sometimes.
We had two couples from our bible study over for dinner; one couple just brought home their first baby and the other couple had an adorable, rambunctious toddler just a little older than our Sweet Pea. So I was in the kitchen, cooking dinner, cleaning up after dinner, making coffee and dessert.
But I wasn’t distracted by serving. I found myself thinking , “Hey, I’m in the kitchen and everybody else is chillin’ in the living room…… but I am totally OK with that… those girls deserve a break…” I then started to pray for my friends while I was doing the dishes.
This was a markedly different thought process than I had several weeks earlier when I was once again in the kitchen, but that time I was distracted by serving.
After our guests left and I went to bed, I opened up a devotional by Charles Spurgeon that spoke about Martha from Luke 10:40.
Her fault was not that she served: The condition of a servant is commendable in the Christian. “I serve” should be the motto of all the princes of the royal family of heaven. Nor was it her fault that she had “much serving.” We cannot do too much. Let us do all that we possibly can; let head and heart and hands be engaged in the master’s service. it was no fault of hers that she was busy preparing a feast for the Master. Happy Martha, to have an opportunity of entertaining so blessed a guest; and happy, too, to have the spirit to throw her whole sould so heartily into the engagement. Her fault was that she grew “distracted with much serving,” so that she forgot Him and only remembered the service. She allowed service to override communion, and so presented one duty stained with the blood of the other. We ought to be Martha and Mary in one: We should do much service and have much communion at the same time. For this we need great grace…….Beloved, while we do not neglect external things, which are good enough in themselves, we ought also to see to it that we enjoy living, personal fellowship with Jesus. See to it that sitting at the Savior’s feet is not neglected, even though it be under the specious pretext of doing Him serivce. The first thing for our soul’s health, the first thing for his glory, and the first thing for our own usefulness is to keep ourselves in perpetual communion with the Lord Jesus and to see that the vital spirituality of our faith is maintained over and above everything else in the world.
I realized that I’ve had a really messed up view of Martha & Mary. I had categorized myself as a “Martha,” because I DO things. I get stuff done. I serve. I cook. I clean up. And most of the time, I like doing it.
I have a “Mary” in my life, and like Martha, “Mary” drives me nuts. She is always at the Lord’s feet, always reading a book, a devotional, resting, taking a nap, and hardly ever lifting a finger to help. It’s always been really hard for me to serve her and I think that might be because I was jealous and annoyed by her “Mary-ness”. Sure, I would love to have several hours in the middle of the day to spend with the Lord, but somebody’s gotta cook dinner, Mary sure isn’t going to do it. Being around my Mary perpetuated my warped belief that I must be a Mary to please God. Leaving my home in shambles and ignoring my guests to spend time with God.
“Hello Mary! There’s lots to do, this is why I spend my time with God BEFORE the day gets started! Could you get off your knees and make a salad?”
What I read in that devotional was SO helpful! I loved what Spurgeon said about being Mary & Martha in one! Yes, it is incredibly vital and pleasing to God that we have living, personal fellowship with Jesus; spending time with the Lord is vital to our soul’s health and time must be set aside for just that daily. We need that before we can be useful in serving Him, in serving our families, in serving others. And yet in addition to that quiet time before the Lord, we can commune with Him while serving. We should commune with Him while serving, otherwise our focus will turn to our service and not the Lord.
God wants us to serve, but he doesn’t want us to be distracted by the doing, he wants us to keep our focus on Him. He has given us areas of service- our husband, our children, our home, a ministry- but once we stop communing with Him during our work, things start to fall apart. You get stressed. Your fuse is super short. Everything annoys you. Nothing works. I know. I’ve been there and I’m sure I’ll be there again at some point this week!
I got it, that night I was serving my friends. I was serving the Lord by serving them. I wasn’t bitter that I was the only one in the kitchen, I loved that I was able to give them a break from doing dishes. I knew WHY I was serving them, my focus wasn’t on the preparations of dinner, it was them. Because I loved them. Because I love my Savior.