“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me’ ” (Luke 10:38-40).
Do you ever feel burned out? Sometimes, we get so busy in our lives that we find ourselves feeling exhausted from all the activities going on in our lives. In such circumstances we might do well to heed the title of a song sung by the Eagles: “Learn to Be Still”.
Jesus wants His disciples to be servants. Remember He said to His disciples, “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:26-28). However, can a Christian be involved in too much service? Spiritually, do we need to “Learn to Be Still”?
Luke records an event in Jesus’ life where He is invited to the home of Martha. It was commendable for her to be “welcoming Him into her house” (Luke 10:38). Later, Martha’s brother Lazarus would become terribly sick and Martha would demonstrate great faith in Jesus’ power to heal him (John 11:3, 20-22). Jesus had great love for Martha (John 11:5). On this occasion record by Luke, Martha was even taking time to serve Jesus (Luke 10:40). There is much commendable about Martha.
However, Luke notes that Martha became “distracted by much serving” (Luke 10:40). In fact, she was so engrossed with serving that she became upset that her sister Mary was not engaged in what Martha judged to be her “fair share” of serving. Instead of being engaged in a lot of service like Martha, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to His Word (Luke 10:39). Martha must have thought, “How dare my sister not lift a finger to help me while I am doing all this work”. Martha even accuses Jesus of not caring that she was pulling more weight in service than her sister. She says to Jesus, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve along? Therefore tell her to help me” (Luke 10:40). Martha pleads with Jesus to tell her sister to “get up and get to work!”
How does Jesus respond? Does He tell Mary to get up and start serving? Unexpectedly, in Martha’s eyes, Jesus says to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42). While it had been commendable for Martha to be a servant, Martha had allowed her service to overwhelm her to the point she began to be judgmental of others who were trying to take time to gain spiritual nourishment at the feet of Jesus. Martha herself need to “Learn to be Still”.
We have been called to be servants. The apostle Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). However, we should not become so engrossed in service that we don’t have time to meditate and listen to God. I rejoice that God doesn’t want me to suffer from spiritual burnout by being so focused on service that I don’t have time to “recharge my batteries”. Today, I will also take time to “Learn to Be Still” and sit at the feet of the Lord!
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).