Today's daily lesson comes from Luke chapter 10 verses 38 through 42:
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 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.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
There is a difference between a chore and a labor of love.
Those who serve God in the church work hard. And when they do a really good job we reward them by giving them even more work. That's just an unwritten rule. No good deed goes unpunished in the House of the LORD.
That really is fine for most people -- at least for a little while. They serve well and feel good about doing it. That's a win win. It is truly a labor of love.
Except when it isn't.
Sometimes what was a labor of love turns in the chore of more. Service feels like a burden, a have-to task, and the one who started out gracious and hospitable turns angry and resentful.
That's when it's time for a Martha to become a Mary.
Whenever we start comparing what we're doing with what others aren't doing then we have moved from grace to works and Gospel to law. There is only one thing we can do to save ourselves at this point and that is to quit doing and simply be.
"We are human beings", some wise person once said, "and not human doings." We can be anxious and worried about many things, but the one thing that is necessary is for us to be near and not far from Christ -- which we can do sitting at Jesus' feet in the living room or serving him in the kitchen; for it is not so much a matter of location and action as it is heart and spirit.
I always imagine that after that dinner over at Martha's house was finished, Mary staid after and told her sister she would take care of the cleanup. I also imagine Martha -- true to form -- refused. "Let's do it together," she said; and they did. And nothing about the long hours after felt for either like a chore but indeed a labor of love -- for Jesus and for each other.
That's how I imagine it anyway.