There is a pitfall that comes with church work, whether one is a pastor or a very active parishioner. You serve the Lord Jesus and his people, the Church, because you love him. And the more you serve, the more serving opportunities come your way. (As they say, if you want to get something done, ask a busy person.) You can be so involved with projects and planning and Bible studies that, when you have down time, the last thing you want to do is pray or dig into God’s Word on your own. You love the Lord and you love serving him, but you also just need a break!
We express love to our loved ones in many different ways. The specifics depend a lot on our personalities. Martha and Mary, for example, in Luke 10, both loved their Lord Jesus, and both expressed it to him, one by busy service and one by rapt attention. All “love languages” are equal, aren’t they? Yet Jesus, in this case, said one was better than the other. Why?
Earlier in the same chapter, Jesus sent out 72 of his followers in pairs on a mission to proclaim his Good News. Luke records the aftermath: “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven’” (Luke 10:17-20).
What they accomplished for the kingdom of God was wonderful! Jesus acknowledged that. But more important than what they did was who they were. Children of God by his grace; names written in heaven. In fact, unless they were who they were, they could never do what they did.
So, a few verses later in Luke 10, Jesus commends Mary for sitting at his feet, listening, learning, knowing him better and better. And Jesus explicitly tells Martha, who is busily serving him, that Mary has made the better choice.
God’s servants in his Church cannot do what they do, unless they are who he calls them to be. And that comes from knowing Jesus better and better, day by day. When those days come where the last thing we want to do is pray or dig into God’s Word on our own, it’s a pretty good sign that it should have been the first thing we did. So relax, and listen.