It is not just the dangerous and deadly which steals peace from those who belong to God. Our desperate and demanding personalities also take peace from those who are His. When we focus our attention and energy upon that which has no eternal value to the exclusion of that which does, we become agitated at the unexpected results. This does not mean all we do in this world is unnecessary or unprofitable. But the evidence of our actions and attitudes comes through in the focus of our activities.
It is a classic story in Scripture. Martha is preparing her home for many who have come. Jesus is there and Mary sits at His feet, intently listening to His words while her sister worked to provide hospitality to Him and all with Him.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching” [Luke 10:38-39 ESV].
Jesus never traveled alone. There were many mouths to feed and beds to make and dishes to clean and much work to do for all those who followed Him. I do not know if she envied her sister or simply thought her lazy. While Mary sat, she worked, showing herself responsible, a true servant, caring for the needs of her guests. To her Mary cared nothing for her guests or for her sister. Her actions were done from love while Mary’s were self-serving and unloving. Jesus, the One who taught love and serving others would see her position once she pointed it out. “But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” [Luke 10:40 ESV].
Jesus didn’t take her side. This may be one of the more startling revelations when they stand before Him, for those who live torn by their own desires, wills and expectations of others. Jesus didn’t take their side. Our eyes are so accustomed to seeing only what we are doing, even when it is the Lord’s will, that we cannot see Him who willed it.
Look at Joshua.
“When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us, or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.’” [Joshua 5:13-14 ESV]
God was for Joshua and Israel. But that is not how He responded. “Don’t assume I’m for you and against them. I am God. Either you are for ME or against ME.” God doesn’t take sides in worldly arguments and disagreements.
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.” [Luke 10:41-42 ESV]
Evidence of self-focus shouts through our emotions and countenance for all to see. We cannot hide the thinking of our hearts for long. All will see. God sees. Martha’s thoughts were upon herself and the work she was doing for them. Her emotions became turbulent the harder she worked to the point her work was for herself and not them. Her expectations took precedent over the One in her home.
Jesus sees what is happening. He, knowing He is going to Jerusalem to die and rise for her sins, and then ascend to His place in eternity, where she will join Him, gives Mary direction to continue listening. Jesus doesn’t want to eat the food Martha gives but to give her the food He offers. He is God, the Servant, and they are His servants to do His will.
Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her. [Luke 10:42 ESV]
Mary was at peace with her Lord and Savior, absorbed by His words and teaching. She hungered and thirsted for what He was saying. None of her attention was focused upon herself. All was focused upon Him. Eventually she might have recognized her physical hunger and thirst, but not now. How easily do the expectations of those around control our devotion to Him who owns us. How readily we relinquish His peace for the turmoil of the world. We do so to our detriment.