It never fails. You’ve planned for guests to come to your home to enjoy a meal and some desperately needed adult conversation. It’s Saturday morning, you have less than ten hours to shuttle the kids to and from the morning ball game, grocery shop, clean and cook the meal. Of all days the weatherman is calling for rain all afternoon. Once it hits, you have an added chore to your cleaning. Now not only do you have to organize the kitchen, dining room, sitting room and bathroom for your anticipated guests; you now have to clean the floors from all the mud that has been tracked into the house by your family. The floor is distracting, and while you are cleaning the floor, you should be preparing for your guests in other ways.
During dinner, you are constantly bouncing up getting seconds for the kids, refilling drinks, cutting and serving desert, clearing the plates and other service dishes. By the end of the night, you feel like the servant rather than the host, and you haven’t had the adult time you’ve been looking forward to all week.
Luke 10 outlines an evening similar to this dinner party situation. Martha and Mary were hosting a dinner with Jesus. However, while Mary was still and listening to Jesus, Martha was buzzing around their home. Martha couldn’t get past what she thought was needed to be done to enjoy her company.
Have you ever experienced this situation? You are working with a friend or relative who just doesn’t seem to be pulling their weight, but chatting with someone else and leaving you to do more than what you think is fair? I have been there a few times and I was irritated. Team efforts make the job go faster, but when your team mates leave, it’s just you. Work slows down, you feel like you aren’t going to get finished or be able to enjoy your company either.
But think of this for a moment. What is more important – clean floors or listening to Jesus? Most churches teach that when the Bible says not to forsake the gathering of ourselves, it’s talking about the body of Christ meeting for services. However, in biblical days, they didn’t have a church house. The people met in small groups in their own homes. That is more than likely how Jesus came to be in Martha and Mary’s home.
While Mary sat and listened to Jesus, Martha, being irritated at serving alone, asked Jesus to tell Mary to serve with Martha. Jesus openly rebukes her for being too busy to listen to what He had to say.
I am often reminded of my time serving in my old church. It’s a “mega church” being close to 2000 members. While I enjoyed the music of the services, many of the sermons, and the uniqueness of the church’s activities, there were a ton of distractions within. During the service there were never less than 20 people working behind the scenes to ensure that the lights, camera, sound, and stage were set up perfectly for the televised message. At one point I joined this group of people in order to serve my church. However, I found out quickly that I never actually had time to worship or listen to the message. I was too busy serving and making sure everything was transitioning smoothly.
There is nothing wrong with serving – Christians are called to be servants. Jesus was a servant. But there is a difference in serving and letting that service get in the way of worship. By His rebuke, Jesus wasn’t necessarily showing Martha her faults, again we are to have a servant’s heart, but He was telling her that there is a time and place for service and a time and place for worship.
So, next time you are planning to have friends over, rather than worry about what is sitting around you concentrate on the conversation. Attention to people is often needed more than attention to the details of your home. There is nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward, just make sure you aren’t trying to do it when Jesus is trying to speak to you!