“Jesus continued from there toward Jerusalem and came to another village. Martha, a resident of that village, welcomed Jesus into her home. Her sister, Mary, went and sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him teach. Meanwhile Martha was anxious about all the hospitality arrangements.
Martha (interrupting Jesus): Lord, why don’t You care that my sister is leaving me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to get over here and help me.
Jesus: Oh Martha, Martha, you are so anxious and concerned about a million details, but really, only one thing matters. Mary has chosen that one thing, and I won’t take it away from her.”
~Luke 10:38-42 (VOICE)
Today, I’m pondering Martha’s motivation. Why did she invite Jesus to her house?
Like Martha, I love to play Hostess. Throwing parties with all The Details is so much fun for me. Even the planning and organizing and shopping is exciting. (I know, I have a problem.)
Whatever the venue, I sincerely enjoy making people happy; I am a Pleaser at heart.
I’ve always thought delivering flowers to be one of the best jobs in the world. The surprise; the smile; the sentiment. What a joy knowing you’ve left someone feeling loved.
Reminds me of the movie “Bed of Roses”
with Christian Slater. (SO good but seriously a tear-jerker.) His character, Lewis, loves arranging and delivering flowers to unsuspecting recipients and then watching their faces; so much so, he buys a flower shop and devotes his life to it.
If you’ve been following this blog, you know I’m no florist
. So for me, delivering a hot meal is the next best thing. I love making a comforting supper, taking it right to someone’s doorstep and seeing them smile. The feeling that follows is addictive.
It feels good to do good deeds, doesn’t it? Knowing I’ve made some kind of a difference is satisfying. Rewarding. It’s a Win-Win all the way around.
As Believers, it is our calling. We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves; to be Salt and Light in the world. But if I’m brutally honest–which, unfortunately I am–sometimes The Martha in me enjoys The Deed and The Feeling more than The One I’m doing it for.
I like tangible, Look-At-What-I-Did accomplishments. Donating clothes from my own closet. Making and serving a Pretty Coffee. Redecorating a room at the church. It’s gratifying to SEE the fruits of my labor and watch the joy others feel from my efforts.
The truth is, it’s harder to be satisfied by what I cannot see.
Sometimes, just Jesus isn’t enough. (I cry as I type those words.) It’s so much easier to be satisfied by what I’ve done for Him than by what He’s done for me. I prefer the joy I can see Here and Now over that which is promised to come.
Like Martha, I get so caught up trying to be Salt and Light, I forget what that even means.
Jesus said I am the salt of the earth so that others may taste and see that He is good; He said I am the Light of the world so others may give glory to Him.
The more I really grasp this, the more I realize I don’t have to TRY at all; I AM because He is in me and He is Good!
And the more time I spend with Him in His word and in prayer, the saltier and brighter I become. Suddenly I’m no longer trying, I’m simply seasoning and reflecting.
Now I know: When I walk away from some good deed feeling like I Made It Happen, that’s me trying. But when I walk away going How Did That Just Happen?, that’s Him giving me flavor and brilliance.
Sometimes I think I crave that Good Feeling because it makes me forget my own troubles. If I’m busy helping others there’s less time to face my own heart issues and sin.
Spoiler Alert: That’s why Lewis bought a flower shop.
He had been a successful business man but lost his wife and baby during childbirth. His deep pain and sorrow prompted him to find a job that made him feel good. Living vicariously through others’ joy helped him forget his own worries and woes.
Doing good deeds and bringing joy in Jesus’ name is NOT wrong. It’s when I find healing through The Feeling more than through The Savior that I have a problem.
Only Jesus can satisfy my longings. No matter how great, no good deed is good enough; no good feeling will ever match the warmth and joy I find in His presence. He is Good and He wants Good for us, but mostly, He just wants Us.
Martha gave Him her deeds; Mary gave Him herself.
And Jesus said she found what is Good.
Lord, I want to give you Me today. Not my Deeds or Best Efforts, just Me. I want to find joy in Your presence alone. Please help the Martha in me to be hooked on You and not a feeling. In Jesus’ Name I ask this. Amen.
“We’re all sin-infected, sin-contaminated. Our best efforts are grease-stained rags…” ~Isaiah 64:6 (MSG)
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth…You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” ~Matthew 5:13a,14-16 (MSG)