A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading Part 1 of a two-part BCC Grace & Truth blog miniseries on Resting in Jesus.
Martha’s Misguided Priorities (and Ours)
“Martha, Martha”—what thoughts come to mind when you hear those words?
For many, what comes to mind is Christ’s response to the woman busily trying to show hospitality and get dinner ready for Christ and His disciples while they were in her home (Luke 10:38–42). Hospitality is a good thing. So much so that believers are commanded to practice hospitality several times in the New Testament (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9; 3 John 1:8).
Yet good things can sometimes take on a life of their own. When this happens we will be worried and distracted. We won’t be at rest. Martha had gotten caught in this trap. Christ gently pointed out that her sister Mary had chosen what was better. Mary sat listening at Christ’s feet. She was not worried and distracted. She was at rest.
Mary had been able to separate higher priorities from lower priorities on this occasion. But to Martha, getting dinner on the table was the top priority. As a result, she asked the Lord to intervene and get her some help. She went to the Creator of everything as she was trying to prepare and asked Him to make her sister help her.
It doesn’t make much sense, does it? If you were going to ask the Creator to do something, why not just ask Him to provide the meal so you could sit at His feet and listen?
Good, Better, and Rest for the Soul
It is likely that Martha missed this reality because she had misplaced priorities. It wasn’t as if Martha was doing something bad; the problem was that there was something better to do and Martha wasn’t doing it. Learning to distinguish good from better, and better from best, is a skill that requires wisdom.
For Martha, learning from Jesus should have been a higher priority than her meal prep. Again, big elaborate meals are not wrong; God Himself has plans to prepare a big elaborate meal for His people (Isaiah 25:6). However, we must learn not to sacrifice what is best and settle for only what is good.
If we don’t grow in this skill, we will, like Martha, be distracted and upset and not at rest. If you are not sure how to prioritize your responsibilities and opportunities, seek out wise counsel. Your soul will never be at rest with misplaced priorities.
What we desire and want can also sabotage rest for the soul. Desires for the approval of others, for jobs well done, and for a good reputation are spoken of positively in Scripture (Romans 14:18; Colossians 3:23; Proverbs 22:1; 1 Timothy 3:7). They are also all spoken of as having little worth in Scripture (Galatians 1:10; Luke 10:38–42; Philippians 3:3-11).
What distinguishes these desires and makes them either good or cheap? I think we find the determining factor in 1 Corinthians 10:31: whatever we do, we are to do it for the glory of the Lord. Whenever this is not the case we are dealing with rogue desires. Desires that have stepped out of their proper bounds and have become objects of worship. When rogue desires take over we look to them for life rather than to God.
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone” (Psalm 62:5). Not in prestige, not in a job well done, not in the approval of others. There is no rest for the soul apart from God and God alone—the self-existent One, the Creator, the Savior, the Giver of every good gift, the Lover of your soul, the One who is worthy, the Lamb slain for you, the One who lavishes you with love, the One who can’t wait to show you the riches of His grace, the One who gives strength to the weary, and the One who makes His creatures lie down in green pastures. “A heart at peace gives life to the body” (Proverbs 14:30).
The Rest of the Story about Rest
Join us in Part 2, as we learn that our souls need rest, and they find that rest in Jesus. But we need more than rest for our souls. We need real, regular rest for our bodies—and that rest includes rest in the midst of labor and rest from labor.
Join the Conversation
Do you have desires that have “gone rogue”? In what ways is Jesus calling you away from the “good” to the “better”?