I'd like to start by thanking my mom for the chance to write for her today. This is actually the second time she's let me fill in for her. My last occasion for writing in this spot was to thank everyone who prayed for me as I was dealing with cancer, radiation, and all that other fun stuff. I'm going on 8 months cancer free now and still doing well, so thank you all once again for your prayers. They definitely work.
My subject today is the need for balance in our walk with God. Have you ever experienced a time when you read different passages in the Bible, and felt that God kept saying the same thing? I knew I struggled with the need to find balance in my spiritual life, and I’ve come to realize that a lot of other people share my struggle. One day, as I was preparing to preach, God gave me a new perspective that has helped me, and I think will help you too. The passage I was preaching from was Luke 10:38-42, the story of Mary and Martha. In that story, we find Martha running around the house, trying to get everything in order, while Mary chooses to simply sit at Jesus' feet and listen to him teach. But that story is about much more.
As I studied the passage, one of the things that struck me was how many commentators said the main point was the need to be more like Mary, and less like Martha. I think the story teaches another lesson as well. After all, Martha wasn’t wasting her time. She was busy doing good things, necessary things. The Greek word used to describe her work was diakonian and it is actually the same word used in Acts, when talking about the early believers ministering to one another. Martha's problem in this story is not that she was wasting her time, but rather that she was so concerned with trying to take care of other people, she neglected to take care of herself; in trying to serve Christ she neglected Christ.
How often do we make that mistake in our lives? How often do we get so wrapped up in doing good things for God that we forget to spend time with God? It seems like there is a never-ending list of needs and an equally long list of opportunities to meet them. It can be mission projects, committees, or any number of other options that command our time and attention. All of those are good things, but the problem is, unless we are being intentional about balancing the time we spend serving God and time spent with God, we are going to burn out. Maybe that has happened to you or maybe you have seen it happen to someone else. It is far too common in the church today and sadly, it often happens to the people with the best intentions.
Just before the story of Mary and Martha, Jesus is talking to an expert of the law, discussing the two greatest commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. The continuation of that discussion is the Parable of the Good Samaritan, illustrating how to love our neighbor as ourselves.
There is an intricate balance between those commands. We express our love to God through our devotion and through our service. Both are required. The Good Samaritan and Martha expressed their love for God through service while here we see Mary showing her love for God through her devotion.
Martha's mistake in this passage was not the work she was trying to do; it was the fact that she did those things instead of spending time at the feet of Christ. She was out of balance. God's desire for our lives is that we begin by sitting at his feet and enjoying his presence. Then we are able to serve, in his strength. Both are good. Both are necessary. But are we doing both in our lives today?
Most of us have a tendency to be more like Mary or more like Martha. Some spend more time in study, while others more time in service. God has made you that way for a reason. But he has also made you with a need for balance. So I'd like to encourage you to take a few moments after you finish reading to pray and ask God if there are areas of your life where your walk with Him is out of balance. You might be surprised at what He shows you.