04 January, 2010

Pray or Do the Dishes? Read the Bible or Swiffer?

We live in a busy city and in a busy society. Often our work is never done. We make many attempts to 'make time' for investing in our own spiritual life, but there is so much to do. Who has time to sit and listen to a sermon when there are dishes to put away? Who has time to read the Scriptures when the laundry is not folded? Who has time to pray and write in your spiritual journal when there is so much else to do.

This is life. It is busy. There is always more to do than hours in the day. But we do make time for what is important to us. In four verses tucked away in the middle of Luke's Gospel we are told about sisters that both love the Lord Jesus Christ. One busily works to make things just right. One takes time to sit at Jesus' feet and learn from his teaching. Again, both Christian woman, both have 'things' that need to get done, both had opportunity to learn from Christ on an afternoon- but only one took the opportunity.

Luke 10: 38-42 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.

JC Ryle notes four things that we can learn from these two sisters:

1.Christians differ in character: "Martha was active and impulsive. She had strong feelings and gave voice to them. Mary was quiet and contemplative, feeling deeply but saying less than she felt."
2.The cares of the world can be a snare: “Martha's mistake should be a constant warning to all Christians. If wish to grow in grace, we must be aware of the cares of this world. Unless we watch and pray, these cares will eat up our spirituality and bring leanness to our souls. It is not open sin or flagrant breaches of God's commands alone which lead people to eternal ruin. More often, it is an excessive attention to things wihchi in themselves are lawful. We may go down to the pit of hell from the middle of lawful things."
3.The Lord's Rebuke: Martha, you are anxious for many things. Faithful are the wounds of a friend. That little sentence was precious balm indeed. It contains a volume of practical theology in a few words. Only one thing is needed: (This is a good lesson for those who would like to entertain other Christians and practice hospitality but do not because things are not just so!)
4.Commendation of Mary: The true Christian's portion is the grace of God. This is what Mary chose, and this is the only thing that lasts. It holds true through sickness, youth, and old age, in times of adversity and prosperity. It is good in the life and in death, in time and in eternity.

We all do have different personalities and characters- but each of us need to make the time to invest in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Sometimes we need to leave the dishes in the sink to commune with Christ. Sometimes the laundry can get folded the next day- as long as we take time to pray and meditate in that time slot. Sometimes you can vacuum later. Jesus should not have to always wait.

I imagine that 20 years after this event occurred Martha had wished that she sat to hear from Christ. Mary had a wonderful memory of learning from the Lord Jesus Christ. Martha had sparkling dishes and properly ironed tea towels.

The dishes can wait.

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