Relationship before Service

“As they went on their way, he entered into a certain village, and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she came up to him, and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister left me to serve alone? Ask her therefore to help me.” Jesus answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.”” Luke‬ ‭10:38-42 ‭‬‬

We were talking in Women’s Bible Study this week about women of faith. Amongst the women of discussion was Mary and Martha. Nicole shared, “Martha invited Jesus in but she was too busy to visit with Him.” It was an eye opener for those who feel the need to busy them selves with the details. For me, it was a breath of reassurance; it is okay for me to just want to be like Mary.

I have two modes when it comes to having people in home 1) I want to have everything already prepared before people arrive, and I will do it all by myself. No potlucks or someone bring this or that (with the exception of immediate family, for holidays or other gatherings). It causes me stress that I don’t particularly want. 2) My house is yours, come in and just make yourself at home. Get what you need, go where you want. I know I can relax because my focus is not hospitality.

For some, hospitality comes naturally; I am not that person. As far a spiritual gifts go, hospitality is at the bottom of my scores, almost nonexistent. I would much prefer to meet in a restaurant where someone else has the job of tending to needs and cleaning up. I want to focus on the person in front of me. I have plenty of other things that will distract me.

When someone is at my house, I want to enjoy their company. I don’t want the distraction of all the other things that come with preparing meals, drinks, or other entertaining. I don’t want to worry about a spotless home, the perfect three course meal, or the spot on the glass. I have a tendency to spread myself thin, I don’t want to do that when I have a guest in my home.

For me, it is the same with the Lord. I love serving, but after decades of doing it, I have also learned the importance of just being able to sit in His presence. It took me many years to break that Martha mentality. I served from an empty cup more times than I care to admit. If it wasn’t empty, the cup would be nearly depleted when I was finished.

Yes, there is still time for serving, but I now see it in a different light. I need my heart to be in the serving. I find joy is meeting the need. It is rejuvenating. However, it is important that for every bit of service, I have twice as much time just sitting in His presence. I need time to restore myself, and then fill up so that when I pour out in service I am not left empty.

I don’t want anyone to have to serve alone. I do want my focus to the the One I invited to spend time with or the one that is sitting in front of me. Relationships were meant to have fellowship, not service. God calls me to have relationship with Him first and foremost. All serving should flow out of that relationship. If I need to chose service or relationship, I know now it’s better to pick relationship before service.

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