When Service Exceeds Devotion
“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said” (Luke 10:39-40).
A story is told of a western missionary group that was sitting with a foreign visitor planning strategy for an upcoming evangelistic trip to his country. One man led in prayer, asking for God’s help in planning their activities. The visitor was surprised how the meeting quickly moved to the planning phase after only a few minutes of focused prayer.
He turned to the leader and said, “You have taught us the scriptures well in our country. However, I’ve noticed when it comes to prayer you spend so little time in prayer listening and much time in planning.” The western believers were convicted by his words.
Martha was Mary’s older sister. Older sisters always think they know best. They tend to mother the younger siblings. So when Jesus came over to spend an evening at their home Martha wanted to prepare a special meal. She noticed Mary was spending all her time in the living room listening to Jesus. Martha finally felt compelled to appeal to Jesus about the situation.
“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her'” (Luke 10:40-42).
Jesus reveals a danger in this story that each of us must be aware of. When our concern for serving Jesus exceeds our need to be with Jesus, we are in danger of focusing on the lesser thing. The hardest thing to do for most workplace believers is to sit and listen. It is easier to do things.