Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Thursday, September 4, 2014


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 10:40-42

Right, Lord, and, if everybody sits there like Mary, you all are going to get mighty hungry.  Somebody has got to fix the frijoles.  Western civilization was not built by people sitting on their butts listening to pretty stories. 

Or was it?

I am extremely lazy.  If it’s work, I try to avoid it, but I’ll work and wear myself out playing.  I like listening to and telling stories better than I like cooking and cleaning.  Strangely, most people like my stories better than my cooking, now that I think about it.  I’d rather be Mary than Martha, but I am also enough of a pragmatic Scot to know that once in a while the corn needs plowing and the taters won’t dig themselves – unless you do the straw thing like John.  And remember that Paul said anyone who doesn’t think they ought to work ought to give up eating while they are at it (2 Thessalonians 3:10). 

One way for us to understand the attitude the Lord expressed here is to make it a sort of allegory of the works versus grace approach to salvation.  The one thing that is necessary is faith, without which it is impossible to please God, no matter how many good deeds we do.  Mary typifies grace through faith while Martha is the type of one who tries to ascend to heaven by piling good works on top of good works. 

Understood this way, the Lord’s call to resting with and in Him makes more sense and eases our fears that we are doing something wrong by working hard and putting in the hours to provide for and care for our families, build our business, save for retirement, etc.  Isaiah said, long before, “For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, in returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.  But you were unwilling “(Isaiah 30:15).

I think, though, for some us, there is also a lesson about giving the work we do for the world too much of a priority.  Remember how we are told to pray without ceasing?  We no longer have to sit at the feet of Jesus to attend to and hear Him, and we don’t have to lament that He isn’t walking around with us, because the Holy Spirit is walking around in us.  In others words, if we want to, we can kind of be Mary and Martha at the same time.  All we need to do is get our thinking in the right order, realize, and recognize the presence of God by His Spirit.  If we can practice giving precedence to the still, small voice over the shrill, lurid, cacophonous demands of the world, we can get Mary’s commendation and still not scorch the beans.


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Precisely, Mushroom.
Besides, work goes better if we praise the Lord while we are working.

When I had to leave the Navy hadta swallow my pride and work as a janitor and later a security guard/janitor.
I used to operate equipment worth millions of dollars, control aircraft, and hunt submarines.

I had an enormous responsibility because if I didn't do my job well, it could literally mean the death of our air crew and everyone aboard our ship.
Oh how the mighty have fallen (I mean that tongue in cheek).
It probably helped that AIDS had already broken me and brought me back to reality.

Nevertheless, I had the wherewithall to to thank God for those jobs because it was hard just to get them.
Thankfully, I realized early on that my pride would only keep me miserable and apart from God so I fought against it, and still am.

Thanks Mushroom, I enjoy your posts immensely!

mushroom said...

Thank you, Ben.

I know what you mean. I was once a hotshot programmer with a chip on my shoulder, and, entirely my own fault, I royally angered a person who was determined to make sure I never got another decent job. I quit working for him with the understanding that he wouldn't badmouth me in references. He couldn't help himself, and I really can't blame him.

So I ended up working as a prison guard. But I learned a lot doing that, and it made me a much better person. More than thirty years later, I look back and think that wasn't really as bad an interlude -- it only last a little over a year -- as it seemed at the time.