Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of September 2, 2007

Luke 10:40-42 (NKJV)
But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Work is a virtue. We teach our children that if they don’t work, they don’t eat. We compliment people when we think they are good workers. Without good workers we wouldn’t have all of the things that make this modern world so enjoyable. But good workers sometimes don’t know when to quit.

Martha was a good worker. Her life seemed to be marked by her willingness to serve. But sometimes she was stuck in the kitchen when others who could have been helping her were enjoying the guest. Apparently that was particularly irritating when the person who could have been helping was her sister Mary and the person that Mary was listening to was the Lord Jesus who was their friend.

While Martha is remembered for her hard work, Mary is remembered for her devotion. She anointed the Lord with a pound of very costly oil of spikenard shortly before the Lord was crucified. This spikenard was worth 300 denarii. If a denarius or a penny was a days wages (Matthew 20:2), this spikenard was worth about a year’s salary for a laboring man which would mean it was worth about $50,000,00 today. Mary was criticized by the disciples for her waste. Most of us would praise Martha for her industry.

The Lord didn’t see this the way man sees it, however. The Lord commended Mary for wanting to spend tine with Him, and He commended her for wasting the oil of spikenard on Him. He recognized that true devotion is costly, and that the truly devoted enjoy spending time with those that they love. Martha’s service was not unappreciated and she likely considered it to be costly, but the Lord would have rather had a simple meal and Martha’s company than an elaborate feast that left her too tired to listen to him or to enjoy his presence.

The Lord gives rest. He invites those who are laboring and heavy laden to come to Him so He can give them rest (Matthew 11:28). We often apply that statement to the Gospel. We know that those who are working their way to heaven will never have peace or rest because they will never know when they have done enough. But those of us who are depending on what Christ has done for us can relax in the fact that the work that saves was finished at the cross (John 19:30). Now we work not to be saved but because we are saved and want to show our devotion to Christ. But sometimes we tend to work when we should be enjoying the Lord’s presence.

Whenever our work becomes a burden to us, likely we are doing more than the Lord has asked us to do. The Lord says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Even when Christians are asked to bear great burdens by the Lord, they normally have peace about it and are not “worried and troubled” like Martha was. The Lord is with us when we are called to walk through dark valleys. David says in Psalm 23:4, “I will fear no evil, for YOU ARE WITH ME.”

Labor day is when we celebrate laboring men and woman and their work ethic. However, we need to remember that not working so we can have time to enjoy the company of the Lord is also a virtue. It is not wasted time. Enjoying devotional time with the Lord is not well understood by those who are committed to “work”, but it is understood and appreciated by the Lord. Perhaps we need to labor to spend more time with the Lord and less time being “worried and troubled” because we are working when we could be enjoying the Lord’s presence.

Bruce Collins

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