But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do…. Luke 10:40 MSG
But Martha was distracted with much serving. Luke 10:40 ESV
Upon first glance, it is easy to sneer at Martha’s seemingly self-indulgent busyness. She is scattering all about her home, making meal preparations, frazzled by crowds of people stirring at the door. But before we think too far down this path, let’s look at the definition of the word “serving” as used in Luke 10:40.
diakonia – service, ministering, especially of those who execute the commands of others. The service of those who prepare and present food: the ministration or service of all who, endowed by God, endeavor zealously and laboriously to promote the cause of Christ among men, as apostles, prophets, evangelists, elders, etc.
This word, diakonia, is used 34 times in the New Testament and MOSTLY refers to those in vocational ministry promoting the cause of Christ. But SHOUT OUT to Martha who made the board. Her one instance is thrown in there amongst the elders….see her? “the service of those who prepare food.”
I think this is HUGE. And arguably this is my favorite Advent post thus far.
Mama’s, let me pause for a moment to ENCOURAGE YOU…. You are doing a DIAKONIA work! Yes. Your service to your family is among those who are advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your labor is NOT in vain. Your service is dear to the Lord and it matters. It is hard for hungry people to grow up into mighty men of valor, amen (Judges 6:12)!? Someone has to prepare their food! So kudos to you. It doesn’t matter if you are a gourmet chef or grabbing Rotisserie from Costco…. the service of those who “prepare and present food” is at the heart of advancing the Gospel just as much as those with office titles.
YET. Just like any good work… when done in our own flesh, these DIAKONIA tasks becomes worrisome when they could be worshipful.
So at its core, I see Martha simply doing what I do ON THE REGULAR – white-knuckling something that was NEVER intended to be done in my own strength.
I love replaying this story in different scenarios. Like, what if Martha had sat down, too? I mean, the Type A in me starts to sweat. Who is going to feed the PEOPLE!? The food will not just APPEAR (although Jesus is in the house so it could, I suppose.) What could/should she had done differently?
You know what I think? I don’t think Martha was meant to sit down.
Martha is my girl: a goal-oriented, multi-tasking, project manager. Martha’s make the world go round. And Martha’s character is in the image of God who LITERALLY made the world go round.
But look – Jesus wasn’t harping on her haste. He was pointing to her heart.
“The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
There is no doubt in my mind about this. Sure there is a time to “be still and know” but I am going out on a limb here and saying that Martha was doing a good work in that kitchen.
Here is our lesson: What is our heart behind our haste? Do we wake up and view our “service” as a burden or a blessing?
I know many of you reading this are the poster child of service. One of my besties is a foster mom for drug babies. Another of my dearest friends cares for her husband who has early onset dementia. Some are reading this with a newborn to your chest. A few of you have cancer-fighters under your roof and you are busy serving their socks off with food, prayer and constant encouragement.
Martha, Martha. I see you.
I think this story is our gift. A sweet recalling of how easily we get distracted with all our serving…AND WE ARE MISSING JESUS IS IN OUR HOUSE.
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. Luke 10:40
Martha…. we understand that preparations HAVE TO BE MADE. Food has to be prepared. A meal has to be presented. Doctor appointments need to be set. The diaper must be changed. Etc etc etc
But the gift of Jesus is yours in all of our “have to be” things. Jesus wants to do all the things with you. The Holy Spirit lives in you. And one great mystery of God is we can sit at His feet in all of our preparations.
It’s mindfulness, Martha.
Shalom is available to all us. Wholeness in the “have to” is yours. Let us resolve to choose Him moment by moment in our serving today.
Choosing What Is Better:
- Make a list of all of your Diakonia work. This may take some time because I am sure there is a lot! Because you are awesome.
- Which on this list typically feel more worrisome instead of worshipful? Circle them.
- As we learn today, Martha’s diakonia work in the kitchen became “haste” and stressful. Look at your circles, how can you renew your mind today to turn those circled items into acts of worship instead of toil?
- How can you be more mindful of “Jesus in your home” today in the midst of all your “have to” things? How can your “sit at his feet” in the busyness?
Prayer: Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay. Close by me forever and love me, I pray.