"But Martha was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, 'Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to You that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.' But the Lord said to her, 'My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details. There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it - and I won't take it away from her.' " Luke 10:40-42...."It was not about what Mary was doing, but where she was sitting." Sheila Walsh
The difference between the sisters Martha and Mary has been preached and written upon many times, and likely we've heard and read them many times more. Still, somehow, most of us tend to exhibit plenty of Martha's traits and few of Mary's. Mary's desire was to give Him all of herself. Martha's seems to be that of giving Him all of her effort. There is a subtle but sharp difference in the two, and it can take a lifetime to discern it. It took most of my ministry life before I did.
For many years I labored under the bondage that no matter how much I did in ministry for Him, it wasn't enough. I would feel guilty if I spent any part of my day not being involved in "ministry" of some type. I disciplined myself to daily make a place to study His Word and pray. There had to be at least three chapters of the Bible read, followed up by reading at least two or three different devotional books. After that, I would launch out into prayer, always with my prepared lists. I wanted to connect with Him, but I also wanted to make sure I was doing enough on my part for the connecting. Doing was as important, and sometimes more important, than beholding. I had standards of performance that I felt had to be reached. So much time spent in prayer and study. So much time in outreach work, visiting, and trying to reach new people for Him. If I didn't daily reach those "performance levels," I felt guilty. The result for me was a life of always living on the fringe of burnout, and like Martha, a complaining kind of spirit with the Lord. "Jesus, look how hard I'm working. Why aren't you sending me more help?" It wasn't a conscious thought, but there was also the question, "Why aren't You impressed with all this?" I had more of a sense of duty to Him, than joy in Him. More distraction than His peace. More of an awareness of myself than of His Presence. So it is for all of us who live, work, and minister more like Martha than Mary. We want to do for Him more than we want to be with Him. Until we realize that unless we soak in His Presence, what we do for Him will not result in anything but wood, hay, and stubble. "Silver and gold" will only flow out of us according to the amount of His Life that flows into us.
Ministry for Him should come out of our love for, and not duty to Him. The most cherished part of our ministry and work ought to be our ministry to Him. This was what Mary was doing. Her devotion and love for Him ministered to Him. He cherished that more than all the fevered preparations of Martha. He wants to fill our hearts with His voice and life. Than with full hearts, we can minister His voice and life to a world desperate to hear and know Him. Before He ever commands us to go out for Him, He calls us to come to Him. Oswald Chambers said that no one who attended his school for missionaries was fit to go out to the nations until they had deeply dwelt in His Presence, and had developed a lifestyle of such abiding. So often we are eager to go, but we don't go empowered. We think it begins from the position of activity. Christ says it all begins at a position at His feet, and at His cross, and at and in the upper room. Until we have lived in and experienced those "positions" we will never know the real fruit of living in the position of the sent out for Him.
In what position do you live and serve right now? That of duty, coupled with distraction, frustration, and eventually, discouragement to the point of bone weariness? Or, do you live and minister from the position of adoration and worship...at His feet? We all have a position with Him. What's yours?