Mothers: Servers or Lovers?

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Dave HollandBy David Holland

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’”

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:38-42, NIV)

Mothers serve and provide the loving environment that empowers a life worth living. Thank God for the mothers who give themselves faithfully to their families, jobs, homes, and provide stability in a chaotic world.

But Moms, when is it time to stop and focus on Christ? Jesus shows us the key to balancing love and service. Most moms swing between serving and nurturing. Jesus speaks to this common human contradiction.

Martha was doing all the work. Yet Mary gets the commendation. It seems so unfair until you look at it more closely. Martha had invited Jesus into her home and was bustling about making the preparations, but inside her head criticism brewed. “Why do I have to do all the work? Why doesn’t lazy ole Mary help around here? Doesn’t anybody care about me? After all, I’m doing all the work.”

Martha’s critical self-talk prompted her to verbalize her accusation against the Lord. “Do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?” Can you imagine accusing Christ of not caring? She goes further by commanding the Lord of the Universe to tell her sister to help her. Do you smell the stink of her self-righteous indignation?

Jesus lovingly responds to her need and not to her critical spirit. He understands Martha’s concerns, just as he knows the multitude of needs that press upon mothers. Christ seems to say, “Martha, something more important is happening right now. Mary sits at my feet because she loves me. Why don’t you let go of the busy-work and spend time with me?”

There is nothing wrong with serving. We desperately need servant-hearted people in our lives. But the problem was in the ugly conversation going on in Martha’s heart. Criticism gave birth to self-righteous indignation, manifesting in rebellion to the person she was trying to honor with her service. People who work too much get tired, resentful, and critical. At some point, we must stop our labors and sit at Jesus’ feet to worship. Make Christ your focus.

The motivation to serve drives many people. According to author Dr. Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages, many people express their love for others by serving. A high percentage of Americans intuitively migrate directly to their task list. This quality is admirable but unable to produce a happy life. Martha is learning this vital principal.

Chapman’s other four “love languages” are also insightful; physical contact, words of affirmation, quality time, and receiving gifts are all employed in Christ’s interaction with Mary and Martha. Mary sat at Christ’s feet as He gave her quality time. Jesus commended Mary and Martha with words of affirmation during the event. The sisters each gave Jesus a gift—Mary worshipped him, and Martha prepared food. Love pervades this entire event. But Jesus shows us the supreme expression of love is time spent in worship.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism declares, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” No higher love exists than worship. God crafted us with His own hands for this purpose of loving, adoring, and worshipping. We find true fulfillment when we sit at Jesus’ feet.

Ultimately, serving God is good, but worship is better. We must allow time, space, and focus for loving worship at the feet of Jesus.

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