A more excellent way
And I show you a still more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 12:31
I get Martha, and not Stewart (although I admittedly love her too.) But Martha out of Luke 10, the one who's all in a fuss about Jesus' arrival and preparing the meal. I get her. I get her frustration, her worry, her whirl-wind style of serving. If I met her I'm sure we'd be friends, both driven by the need to do.
I like lists.
Wait. Let's rephrase that...I love them.
I get an odd satisfaction when I can cross off something on my list. And I'm sad to say that my list-loving-achiever ways have seeped into both my relationship with God and others. Sometimes while I'm praying I'm secretly listing all the chores that still need to be done, or the grocery shopping I have to do later, or that thing at work I have to get done tomorrow. Sometimes while I'm talking with people I'm not so much focused on what they are saying as I am on what I have to do next.
I love the story of Martha and Mary because while Martha is determined to do, Mary is content to be. To be in Jesus' presence, to rest there in His love without worry or anxiety.Luke 10: 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
I'd say if we're honest we've all got a bit of Martha in us. When good friends come to dinner, I worry about how clean my house is, or how elaborate the meal is. And if Jesus came to eat with me? I might be as flustered as Martha too.
But Mary knows something we as women have a hard time getting---we don't have to earn His love. It's free, no matter how messy our house is or what's left on our list.
And if His love is free, our love for others should be also. But if we feel the need to earn His love, we will make everyone else around us earn ours too.
And that's where I've lived for years, with my loved ones, with my friends, with myself-- striving to be good enough and casting my love aside when others weren't because I couldn't give away what I didn't possess myself.
At the end of 1 Corinthians 12, after speaking about tongues and prophecy, Paul tells us that though those are all great and good, there is an even better way....love. God's love, and out of it, love for others. Kind, patient, enduring love. Love that always hopes and perseveres. That holds no grudges, and triumphs over offense.
The kind Mary was content to bask in, and the kind Martha missed.
Today I'm done missing it. In the grand scheme of things it will not be the clean house I kept, the meals I prepared, or the lists I got through that last through time...it will be love and relationships.
God and people are the only eternal things in life.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22: 36-40