Welcoming, but Distracted

“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.'” Luke 10:38-42

These sisters, along with their brother Lazarus, offered Jesus a warm place of easy fellowship and comfort as oases during His ministry. They lived just outside the hum of Jerusalem in Bethany, and shared with their friend deep mutual love and interest. Martha was quick to welcome Him, but then just as quickly turned her back to return to busyness. The busyness of much serving that brewed fretting, stewing, a stomp here and a jerked-stir there resentment that boiled over into whining. In contrast, Mary lingered, and listened, sitting quietly at His feet. (John 11:5; 12:2-3)

It is not wrong that either woman served her friend (and Savior) in her particular way. Hosting gifts vary and complement each other. But motive and attitude matter. Jesus, who knew all that was in a person, detected their heart thrum and wanted to put the errant mindset aright. To prepare and present a needed meal is a gracious service that honors the guest, but distraction to the point of anxiety, huffiness, and bitter complaining dishonors the Lord. Tasks can trip us up when they are neither offered unto Jesus nor performed wholeheartedly. (John 2:24-25; Ephesians 6:7; Philippians 2:14; Colossians 3:23-24; Hebrews 12:15)

What attitudes need adjusting in my day to day interactions, with strangers and those I love? When I feel ‘put-upon,’ harried, or exasperated, would I pause to remember all Christ bore on my behalf willingly and without a word? Would I turn a rising grumble borne of a stingy spirit to high praise as I serve with generosity? (Psalm 100:1-2; Isaiah 53:4,7; 61:3)

How do we express devotion to the Savior? Surely we have different gifts that are needed and complementary in the Body, but do they ever overshadow the One who gave them? The tyranny of the urgent distracts from focus on Him as recipient and aim of all our efforts. Frenzied serving robs us of soaking in the instruction, help, and grace the Lord extends. Where has Jesus invited us away from the press of busy to quiet devotion with Him? Are we choosing to accept?And when we are occupied with much service, is it halfhearted with a rub, or wholehearted for Jesus? (Matthew 11:28-30)

Lord, may I welcome You daily with the hospitality You deserve. Help me always choose the good portion of listening and serving with cheerful, reverent gratitude. And may I welcome others into my life and days without grumbling, and with much grace, to Your honor. (1 Peter 4:9-10)

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