What Really Matters
Those of you who know me well know how much I love the stories in the New Testament about Mary and Martha. I realize that my love for these stories are probably because of how much and how many different ways my Heavenly Father has used them to speak to my heart over the years.
Particularly, I used to struggle with Jesus’ defense of Mary when she chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him rather than help Martha in the kitchen. This story is recorded in Luke 10:38-42. I’ve been in the kitchen and felt the pressure over trying to get everything just right and have it all ready on time for special guests. I could identify with Martha’s concern as well as with her aggravation toward Mary. But, Jesus was looking at Mary’s heart and her desire to listen and learn from Him. As He told Martha: “Mary has chosen that good part.” In other words, Mary had chosen what really mattered.
I have come to realize that daily I make choices. They may not seem like big choices, but no matter how big or small, they have a way of reflecting what is truly on my heart, those things that really matter to me. Sometimes, my choices can reflect my need for some “heart work.” Perhaps, I’m more concerned with what other people think, or even what I think, rather than what God would have me do.” What does God see when He looks at my heart, today? I pray that my heart may be more like Mary’s heart and full of love for her Lord.
If you, like me, need to be reminded from time to time about pursuing what really matters, perhaps you would like to read the following re-post “Showing Love to God.”
Showing Love to God
Recently I was reading the Scripture passage in the book of Mark where Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, took a very costly flask of spikenard, broke it, and poured the oil on the head of Jesus ( Mark 14:3-9). She was immediately criticized by others who witnessed her action. “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” Jesus, however, quickly came to Mary’s defense. “But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good, but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come before hand to anoint My body for burial” (Mark 14:6-8). “She has done what she could.”
Jesus had previously come to Mary’s defense at another time. We read of this event in Luke 10:38-42. On this occasion Jesus was invited to the home of Mary and Martha. While Martha worked to prepare a meal, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet feasting on His every word. Finally, worn-out Martha complains to Jesus because Mary is not helping. “And Jesus answered and said 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.’”
When reading both of these accounts, it is easy to join Martha and the others in criticizing Mary. After all, shouldn’t Mary join in and help Martha with all the work? And wouldn’t it be much better to sell the spikenard and use the money to help those in need than to pour it on Jesus’ head? But Jesus didn’t agree. Why? Because Jesus saw something that those present did not see. He saw Mary’s heart. He saw her hungering for His teaching, hanging on His every word. And He saw her loving Him with her whole heart as she poured the costly oil on His head. Perhaps she didn’t know what else to do to show Him her love – but she did what she could do.
As I thought about Mary and Jesus’ response to her actions, I thought about my own heart. Do I hunger for His Word and long to know Him better? Or do I allow the distractions of my daily activities to interfere with my time with Him? Am I eager to express my love for Him in whatever way I can? Or do I feel that what I have to offer is not good enough, or perhaps too good, or maybe it’s not like what everyone else is offering. What does Jesus see when He looks at my heart? Would He defend me for choosing the right thing and for doing what I can to show my love for Him?
Sometimes we forget that God is more concerned with our relationship with Him than with the things we do for Him. The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God. When Jesus was asked to name the first commandment, He summarized the first four commandments in His reply. “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:29-30). When we love God in this way, like Mary, we’re going to worship, praise, and adore Him in ways that others sometimes may not understand. Likewise, such love will naturally overflow to touch others, just as Jesus continued in His reply. “And the second [commandment], like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31).
I know I love God with all my heart, but do I really love Him with all my mind and all my strength? I want to show God I love Him, but sometimes the things I do look so pitifully small and such a poor expression of my love for Him. And then I’m reminded of Jesus’ reply on behalf of Mary. “She has done what she could.” God sees my heart just as He saw the heart of Mary. He sees the love and the “want to” even if what I do may seem small or even if it is questioned by others.
Years ago I received a handmade clay mug that one of my kids made at school. Although it was misshapen and really quite pitiful, I treasured that mug because my child had made it. It’s packed away now with some other treasured keepsakes, but every time I see it, I’m reminded of my child and smile over the work and effort put into that mug. I love that mug because I love my child. In much the same way, I’m sure that Jesus looks at things I do for Him. Sometimes He may be saddened because He sees my heart is not wholly committed to Him. Other times He may rejoice to see His child accomplish some great thing from a heart overflowing with love for Him. At still other times, He may smile as He sees my poor, pitiful efforts but a heart full of love. It is then that I can almost hear Him say: “Let her alone. She has done what she could!”
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s
commandments and abide in His love.”