Many of us are frustrated with God and often ask aloud, "what has God done for me? I am not even sure that He is fair. How can I understand God? How can I be sure what He will do?" Have you ever felt that way? That He is not a just God? You pray, and for long hours. You even fast and He does not seem to hear you. You life remains a struggle. Yet you know of someone who prays for 15 minutes or less and seems to have all the good things of life. Have you ever wondered why? Have you ever thought that I John 1:9, where the bible declares God to be a just God, might be wrong?
Actually, God is a just God. Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And 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 approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” 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.” (Luke 10:38-42, New King James Version).
Here, we see two sisters serving the Lord in their respective ways. Jesus reprimands the one who is working hard and commends the one who is merely sitting and Master-gazing. A casual observer would be confused. How is that fair and just? No doubt, Martha, who was reprimanded in spite of all her good works, was unhappy. Mary too might have been puzzled by the commendation. You might be equally confused. What just happened here? Older Christians would like to remind you that God is sovereign. So? Does His sovereignty have to make Him so capricious? Oh well, they say. He is God, you can’t really tell what He will do. Job said as much in his famous, The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be His holy name.
Judging by some scriptures, it seems that even God describes Himself in capricious terms, for example:
Esau and Jacob; As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” (Romans 9:13).
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion” (Rom 9:14-15).
Psalm 75:7 says of God, But God is the Judge: He puts down one, And exalts another.
He kicks it up one more notch in Deut 32:39, Now see that I, even I, am He, And there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.
In Psalm 115:3, He declares, I sit in the heavens I do as I please.
But right there is the key to His apparent capriciousness – He does exactly as He pleases.
Ask yourself - is God pleased with your life? Although we were created for His pleasure,You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will (pleasure) they exist and were created.” (Rev 4:11), we mostly fail to let Him derive pleasure from our lives. Most times, God has to be like the father who said to his daughter – "Just be happy that I love you because right now, I don’t like you." That God loves us is not in doubt – look at the cross. But does He like us? Are we likable? Are we pleasing to Him? Can He say of us like He did of Jesus in Matt 17:5, This is my beloved son in whom I am well-pleased.
So, how can we please God? Let us see what we can learn from the 2 sisters in our main passage. As we consider, try and identify which of the sisters best represents you:
They were both Christians, if you define Christian as someone who is of the party of Christ.
They both loved God.
Consider Martha; she was probably the older one – the house was hers. She was so established in her faith that she did not see any need for improvement.
In fairness, she was an extremely kind and hospitable woman.
She kept a clean house.
On the contrary, she nagged Jesus – nobody likes being nagged.
She was snapping at Jesus, the Lord of Lords and the King of kings.
Please note that there is nothing inherently wrong with questioning God, like Paul did on the Damascus road, Who are you Lord? Or David in Psalm 44:23-24 Why do you sleep Lord? Or Peter in Mark 4:38, don’t you care that we are dying? He graciously provided the needed information to these questions; however, when you ask in a quarrelsome manner or a self righteous way, as in Is 58:3-9, where the people of God queried God, His response will be different; the question will receive a rebuke.
IMartha's nagging got so bad that she ended up trying to command Jesus. It was obvious that with that attitude, Jesus was far from pleased. She received a reprimand in spite of all her pious activities. On the other hand:
Mary might have been lazy, a slacker.
But more likely, she was wise, enough to know the right end of the stick; she knew on which side her bread was buttered.
She discovered what was needful and took fast hold of that.
What exactly was Jesus referring to as that which was needful? In Mathew 6:33, Jesus explains that the fastest way to get all that we need is to get your priorities straight, strive to get into the kingdom and the good things in the kingdom will come to you without too much effort. Immigrants know this very well. They enter into a country, knowing that once they are there legally, all the good things of that nation shall automatically be added to them. Those who remain away from there can only get crumbs if and when those who are already citizens decide to respond to their calls.
Don’t settle for spiritual crumbs. Get your priorities straight. First the kingdom, then the kingdom blessings.
Mary reverently learnt from the master. Obviously her life pleased the Lord and she was commended.
Your attitude and approach must be pleasing to God
Don’t come to Jesus with an attitude of knowledge – come as a little child – to learn
Be open to surprises - God is full of surprises
Don’t prejudge God - He does as He pleases. Just ensure that He is pleased with you.
Don’t be so busy that you do not have time for God - remember, you cannot receive anything unless and until it is given to you by God.
Seek to do His will, not get Him to do yours – the lesser is blessed by the greater; God is greater than us
Martha was trusting in her works. Mary chose grace – unmerited favor. Just like the prodigal son. Like Paul the worst of sinners, the least of the apostles, Like King David.