Luke 10:38: Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
Luke 10:39: And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
Luke 10:40: But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
Luke 10:41: And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
Luke 10:42: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
The context here shows two ladies who were sisters one being very busy while the other simply kept her focus on the Lord. It is pretty obvious one was doing a lot of work while the other was seemingly idling. The overworked sister complained to the Lord to compel her sister to help her with the work she thought would be important in her view on serving the Lord.
From a human standpoint, this was really unfair. One was shouldering all the load while the other was rather carefree. Based on Martha’s complaint, Marry seemed to be a shirker of duty. Looking through the lens from a human worldly point of view, Martha’s request was justified and Marry should not be allowed to indulge in her own ways.
Unfortunately, the Lord has a penchant of interpreting labour, effort, motives and spiritual quality of a person differently from man’s point of view. Not only the Lord did not accede to Martha’s demands, she was even told her priority was all wrong. Martha’s outburst got her no where.
Martha was actually quite rude laying some blame on the Lord for not taking notice on how she was left on her own to serve Him. Due to her familiarity with the Lord, she took for granted this entitled her the privilege to charge the Lord for being unfair and guilty of favouritism in how the two of them were treated.
How did Martha get to this stage of a burnout? There was no question she had been busy and doing all the work. The trouble was she was doing everything in her own view was the way the Lord should be served. It was purely her own opinion and she expected her sister to adopt the same.
No where did the Lord tell her how she ought to serve or what she had to do in serving Him. Her labour was not commissioned by the Lord and this added no value to her soul in serving the Lord this way according to her own understanding and on her own terms. Worse still, she demanded her sister to follow suit laying such bondage upon others according to her own foolish understanding.
As such, very quickly she lost her joy of serving the Lord because it was all done in the energy of the flesh. Had she succeeded in her endeavour, she might probably glory in her effort instead of giving glory to the Lord. The focus was on her labour and effort and not on the Lord. So how would you expect the Lord to respond?
Mary was right. Her focus was on the Lord giving the Lord all her undivided attention in which the Lord truly deserved. Her attention was on the Lord and not on some work and she was rightfully commended. But for Martha, her own work took centre stage and became her object of glory. It is dangerous to take satisfaction in human effort in serving the Lord, especially work based on human understanding where the Lord was not part of the entire equation.
The episode on these two sisters is instruction here. How often do you see Christians running hither and thither where in their own mind and own view , they were serving the Lord and then they burned out along the way? Some fell into the same category of Martha. They murmur and complain why the Lord is so unfair and allows others to slack while they serve all on their own.
This is the result of not getting their orders from above and they start to run around in circles thinking they were actually serving the Lord. To make matters worse, they start to look around sideways and complain why others were not as zealous and faithful like them in serving the Lord according to their own opinion and understanding.
The Lord clearly came to promise rest to our souls. For the Lord claims:
Matthew 11:29: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Matthew 11:30: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
The moment anyone felt his effort and labour became too heavy in serving the Lord like what Martha experienced with lost of joy, then the Lord has no part in such service. The apostle Paul also at times felt weary in the work of the Lord physically yet there was no hint of murmur or complain or lost of joy in the Lord’s work.
If the work we do for the Lord is commissioned from above, then there is no room for murmuring and complaining and looking at others wondering why they are not doing what we are doing. Should the work we endeavour for the Lord is based on looking at what others are doing, then there is great possibility of burnout because we thought we were serving the Lord but we were actually serving to please men and to covet the praise of men. We are simply imitating what others are doing and not doing what the Lord wants us to do. Serving the Lord is not a competition with fellow Christians to see who serves more and who serves best.
The primary work for the Lord is to spend time on the words of the living God and seek the Lord in prayer much like what Marry was doing and was commended by the Lord. Spending time sitting at Jesus’ feet is important otherwise how do we know what the Lord wants us to do for Him? This is really the one thing that is needful so choose the good part to spend time with the Lord like Marry. There is no point following the footsteps of Martha running ahead of the Lord without knowing what the Lord delights in and then fall into self-pity and discouragement and even despair.
It is important to know what the Lord expects from us and not what some church leaders expect us to do. If you have been so busy running your life around the church calendar and neglected to spend time on the words of God and with the Lord in prayer, don’t be surprise when you end up like Martha wallowing in frustration living out a meaningless and joyless existence deceiving yourself you are in the Lord’s service.
This will not only cost you lost of joy, it may bring trouble on your loved ones especially when you think you are serving the Lord revolving your life around the church calendar and then your family gets neglected along the way. It is not the Lord’s will to break your family in order to serve Him. It is the Lord’s will for you to keep your family in good spiritual health so that your church life will be fruitful and are able to edify one another in the Lord.
Always ensure we do what the Lord wants us to do for Him and not what others expect or think what we should do for the Lord. How we serve the Lord is none of the business of others be they church leaders or otherwise. The tendency to compare with what others are doing for the Lord is very common, even the apostle Peter was guilty of such weakness.
John 21:20: Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
John 21:21: Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
John 21:22: Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
Don’t ever benchmark your service for the Lord based on what others are doing. What others are doing for the Lord is none of our business. Be yourself and do your best for the Lord. You have your unique role to play to be a blessing to others and to be useful for the Lord’s work. Your rewards will be sure.