“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
Today I have a confession, one that is hard to admit. Many times I want the satisfaction of completing a goal more than I want to experience God.
This is a battle every morning, knowing my to-do list beckons, tasks await, people expect, emails ding.
All the while my Bible sits on the table with a silent invitation. It’s not demanding, simply a peaceful promise. Sadly, it’s easy to pass by as I move on to things I “need” to do.
I’m wired like Martha — maybe you know her from the Bible? She was concerned about her to-do list too.
Luke chapter 10 records a day when Martha was the hostess and Jesus was the guest. It’s a short story, but we know Martha fussed at Jesus because her sister wasn’t working hard enough. Rather than helping Martha fix the food, Mary was sitting listening to Jesus.
Jesus loved both Mary and Martha. But in that moment, as the story records, Jesus was more delighted with Mary’s heart to be with Him than in Martha’s heart to serve Him.
I can be a fusser too. Too busy with the details, too worried about planning for what’s next, too preoccupied with my to-do list. Sometimes I even worry about other people’s to-do lists.
Yet, I want a heart that pursues God more than goals. I want to long to spend time in Jesus’ presence more than I long to spend time on my computer or phone.
It’s not that I don’t love Jesus. I do. I’ve devoted my life to serving Him. I’m aware of His presence and talk to Him throughout the day.
But so did Martha. She loved Jesus. And I’m sure she loved having Him as a houseguest, where she could hear Him talk as she went about her daily tasks. Maybe she asked Him questions and served Him lunch. Touched His shoulder as she walked by and picked up His plate.
But she didn’t stop to sit at His feet. She didn’t pause her preparations to give Him wholehearted attention.
Jesus so gently and lovingly corrected Martha and gave her advice on the right way to go about her work:
“Martha, Martha,’ the LORD answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed — or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’ ” (Luke 10:41-42, NIV)
Jesus loved Martha’s heart of service, but He wanted her wholehearted devotion first.
This was a message Jesus consistently taught in His ministry. Get your heart right first; that’s the most important place to start.
In fact, our key verse is from Jesus’ teaching recorded in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
I wonder if Martha changed her habits. Did she check her heart and consider where Jesus fit? Did she review her priorities and put Jesus before cleaning up?
We don’t know the answer. The only thing we can know is what we decide to do with this story.
It’s so compelling to jump into our days — whether it’s carpooling children or leading a meeting at work — without ever pausing to sit at Jesus’ feet. It’s so much easier to whisper a prayer while driving or listen to the Christian radio station and consider that time with God.
And we can be sure that God loves to hear our prayers and songs of worship. But Martha’s story challenges me to do a heart check. Why haven’t I carved out time every day to just enjoy the presence of the Lord?
It’s a challenging question, and one I’m determined to answer. But more than that, I’m committed to putting God before my goals in a very practical way … to stop being worried about my “many things” and choose what is “better.”
Heavenly Father, thank You for welcoming me into Your presence no matter how I approach You. You never shame me for my selfish choices, only love me. Help me re-order my heart and my schedule to put You before any task or goal. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (NIV)
Luke 10:41-42, “But the LORD said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (NLT)
If you feel overwhelmed and need help managing your schedule, Glynnis Whitwer’s book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, offers spiritual truth and practical tips.
Goals aren’t a bad thing; we just need to have our hearts right with the Lord before pursuing them. So if you sense God has called you to write or speak, we’d love to help you gain a fresh vision and get the tools you need at our annual She Speaks Conference this summer, where we offer professional training grounded in having a right heart before God.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Take a look at your calendar this week. When can you schedule 15 minutes to sit at Jesus’ feet? Write it in and consider it an appointment you can’t break.
© 2016 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.