Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Visit at Martha's House, part 10:

Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house.'
Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house.
The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."
But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." (Luke 10:3-5, 7, 17, 40 NASB)

Chapter 11 of Luke began with the sending of the seventy disciples on a preaching and healing tour of the towns and villages to which Jesus planned to go. He promised them uncertain working and traveling conditions. They were to take nothing with them and were to go as "lambs in the midst of wolves." They were to eat whatever they were given, stay wherever they were welcomed. Physically, it was likely to be a hard trip, yet they went willingly, eager to do what Jesus had given them to do. When the seventy disciples returned, they were full of joy and bubbling over to tell Jesus about the adventures they had in His name. 

What a contrast to Martha's attitude! Instead of sending her out on a hard mission, Jesus went to her house, drawing closer to her by his physical presence. He and His disciples sat down and were prepared for a nice long conversation. Martha not only did not sit down with Him, she grumbled about the work she did to prepare a meal for Him. 

Why was Martha's attitude, her joy in service, so different from the seventy? The difference had nothing to do with circumstances. The seventy had considerably more difficult circumstances. It had nothing to do with the amount of work involved. The seventy likely had longer hours and unrelenting demands on their time. The difference had nothing to do with the people around them. The disciples were as "sheep in the midst of wolves". At least some of the people by whom they were surrounded were dangerous and devious. Martha was, instead, surrounded by Jesus and His disciples. What better company could she have?

The difference was likely one of calling. The disciples were called by Jesus, appointed by Him, to do the work He had set before them. They willing agreed and eagerly obeyed. Despite the fact that their service was difficult, they had great joy because they were being obedient to the plan of God for their lives. 

Martha, by contrast, was working according to the call of Martha on her life. Jesus had come to visit, but Martha chose to cook and "make preparations" instead. She was at home, in the place most familiar to her. She was surrounded by good people whom she loved and could trust. She would sleep in her own place that night. Everything to which she was accustomed was readily at hand. Preparing for Jesus should have been a joyful time. Instead, it was an unhappy, grumbling time for her.

Attitudes, dear ones, are vitally important and they often begin in the understanding that we are doing what we are meant to do, what we are called to do. If we are unhappy in the midst of service rendered to the King of Kings, it is not likely to be the fault of the King. His plans are good. If we are miserable in our labors, it may be that we need to spend more time at His feet, but perhaps it is because we are not doing the labor to which Christ has called us at all. Despite the difficulty in the journey of the seventy, there was great joy in their obedience, and there should be great joy in our obedience, as well.

Are you joyful in your work? If not, why not? Could it be that the work you are doing is not what you are called to do in this time of life? Before the disciples undertook their journey, they drew close to Jesus, who gave them direction for their trip. We would do well to do the same. Draw close to Jesus, ask Him for directions for your life and your work, then do whatever He says with joy and great anticipation. The way may not be easy, but the joy you find will be worth all the difficulty you encounter. 

For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NASB)