What could I give up for Lent? Luke 10:38-42

Luke 10 38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’
41 ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’

Martha was busying welcoming Jesus. Mary just sat at Jesus’ feet. And rightly so! When friends visit you, they don’t expect you to spend all your time in the kitchen cooking for them. They just want to sit and talk with you and spend time together. The passage tells us that Martha was distracted but Mary was focussed. Martha was worried and troubled. Mary was contented. Martha was serving but Mary was worshipping. Are you a Martha or a Mary? Are you busy, busy, busy? Or are you sitting at Jesus’ feet?

We live in a busy world! We are made to feel guilty if we aren’t constantly “doing something.” People expect us to be busy, even overworked. It’s almost a status symbol – “if we’re busy, we’re important; if we’re not busy, we’re lazy.” That kind of busyness led Martha to tension and frustration. That’s what happens when we are consumed with the wrong tasks or trying to cram too many of the right activities into too little time. Martha had a priceless opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet. But she couldn’t spare Jesus the time. She wanted to be with Jesus. But she allowed herself to get distracted. Her preoccupation with offering hospitality distracted her from what was more important. Martha became stressed and worried. So she became critical of Mary for not doing her share.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.” Martha just got her priorities wrong.

Notice that Jesus didn’t condemn Martha for doing the things that needed to be done. But he did tell her off for presuming that what Mary was doing was wrong. Jesus says that Mary “had chosen what is better.” Mary and Martha each loved Jesus just as much, but Martha didn’t realise that in her desire to serve Jesus, she was actually neglecting him. She was so busy at doing things FOR Him, that she had no time to spend WITH him. There are so many Marthas in the world. If we spend so much time doing things for Jesus, but never spend time getting to know him, then we are making Martha’s mistake.

In contrast, Mary had her priorities right. She did know that Jesus would need to served, but she got things in the right order. She spent time talking to Jesus showing her love for Him. A.W.Tozer was absolutely right. “God created us to be worshippers first and workers second!!!” “We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.”

This story of Martha and Mary gives us all a vital reminder of the importance of prayer and worship – of making time to be with God and sitting at Jesus’s feet! We need to get the balance of our lives right between work and prayer. The ultimate tragedy of a life which is too busy is the tragedy that Martha faced. Offered the opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet, busy people can’t spare Jesus any time. It is hard because we live in a Martha world. But we all need times to just stop and be quiet and be still, and rest in the presence of the Lord. It is good for ourselves, good for our relationship with others and good for our relationship with God. Mary had her priorities right!

“She has chosen what is better” Mary got it right. She was giving Jesus her sole attention, even if it meant that other things were neglected for a while. Mary wasn’t even going to be put off by Martha’s complaints!

In the New Living Translation, Jesus says, “There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it – and I wont take it away from her.”
Lent reminds us to make opportunities to spend time with Jesus. But it is NOT JUST about spending time with God instead. Every occasion reminds us that God is with us!

So What could I give up for Lent?
Four obvious suggestions
– Fast from a specific food, or from snacking
– Fast from a particular drink
– Fast from a television programme
– Fast from Facebook/Twitter/Instagram
Four more ideas from Pope Francis:-
– Fast from pessimism and be filled gratitude
– Fast from complaining and contemplate simplicity
– Fast from selfishness and practise compassion
– Fast from words and be silent, so you can listen

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