When you arrive at my parents’ house as a guest, they’ll swing the door wide open, greet you with a grin, and exuberantly declare how wonderful it is to see you. After enveloping you in a warm embrace, food will be abundant and delicious, even if your visit was unexpected. If you stay overnight, you’ll find the guest room staged with fresh flowers on the nightstand, fresh sheets on the bed, and likely a new magazine to help you unwind before nestling into the fluffy blankets for the most peaceful sleep you’ve had in ages.
One of the things that makes it such a joy to be a guest of my parents is that even if it’s an evening of extravagance, the atmosphere is one of complete and utter calm. Mom’s a master at getting the busywork out of the way before the guests arrive so that she can just enjoy their company.
Sometimes when I offer to help her clean up after the meal, she says, “Let’s just leave it. I can deal with it later. Right now, I just want to visit with you.” If that doesn’t make a person feel loved and welcome, I don’t know what does!
My mom reminds me of Mary and Martha. In Luke 10:38–42, we read about these two sisters who welcomed Jesus into their home. Mary sat at Jesus’s feet, soaking up every moment in His presence and listening intently to everything He said. “But Martha was distracted with much serving” (v. 40). Frustrated by her sister’s inactivity, Martha boldly told Jesus to command Mary to help her.
Jesus told Martha that only one thing was needed: “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42, NIV). Mary chose relationship over refreshments, friendship over food, and listening over lording. She recognized that her relationship with Jesus was more valuable than anything else. What she received in her intimacy with Him could never be taken away from her—not even busyness, a bossy sister, or big dinner obligations.
Martha never met my mom. It’s too bad. She could’ve learned a thing or two.
In all honesty, most of us could, right? We tend to have high expectations of what serving Jesus should look like. We want to get everything just right, so we busy ourselves with so much activity—volunteering at church, attempting to create Instagram-worthy homes, trying to parent perfectly, attending conferences, and consuming more Christian books and podcasts in our efforts to learn more, be more, and do more. And yet we feel it’s never enough. If we’re not careful, our desire to serve Him turns from delighted devotion to dutiful drudgery. No one wants that! So how do we serve Jesus well? What does He want from us?
Above all our sacrifice and service, Jesus wants our hearts. The more we get to know Jesus, the more we love Him. When we genuinely love Him, we automatically glorify Him. It’s not dutiful drudgery at all! It’s a delighted devotion.
Sometimes we need to leave the dishes in the sink till later so we can sit in His presence, open our Bible, and listen to Him speak. Maybe we clear a few commitments off the calendar so we can enjoy some unhurried time admiring His handiwork in nature or delighting in the company of Christian friends. Instead of adding to our to-do list, maybe our relationship with Jesus would benefit from a time of simple worship in the privacy of our own home.
Friends, let’s not get caught up in doing for Jesus so much that we forget to delight in Jesus. Yes, we want to serve Him, but as we do so, let’s remember the example of my mom. Let’s keep our eyes on enjoying the One we serve instead of focusing only on our service.