Deuteronomy 26:1-19; Luke 10:38-42; Psalms 76:8-12; Proverbs 18:19
OT: “The Lord your God is commanding you this day to follow these statutes and ordinances. Follow them carefully with all your heart and all your soul. Today you have affirmed that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in his ways, keep his statutes, commands, and ordinances, and obey him. And today the Lord has affirmed that you are his own possession as he promised you, that you are to keep all his commands, that he will elevate you to praise, fame, and glory above all the nations he has made, and that you will be a holy people to the Lord your God as he promised.” (Deuteronomy 26:16-19 CSB)
This is the big difference between the True and Living God and other idols, gods, and demonic representations. God issues commands to follow, but the reason is not to appease Him. He instructs us to obey His commands, statutes, and ordinances for our benefit – that we may be holy as He is holy – that He may bless us with His abiding presence and abundant life, unto us blessing the world. We don’t have to blindly offer fatalistic sacrifices in the hopes that we have done enough to appease the gods and earn their favor. No – God promises us that if we offer our lives to Him and follow His word, will, and ways, He WILL bless us… He WILL elevate us… He WILL glorify us and cause us to stand out from the rest of the world.
NT: “While they were traveling, he entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”” (Luke 10:38-42 CSB)
In the time of Jesus, the extended law (full of man-made amendments and traditions) was burdensome and not a blessing. Instead of bringing you closer to God, it was full of nitpicky requirements that stood as a barrier to God. In order to be “righteous,” you had to perform and prove yourself worthy. I wonder if Martha was caught in that system of performing to be proven worthy. When Jesus came to her home, she couldn’t be bothered with what Jesus was saying, for she was driven by her task list. She had to perform. Mary, on the other hand, was able to set aside her tasks to be in the Lord’s presence. Martha, expecting Jesus to be on her side, complained to Jesus and asked Him to set her sister straight. Jesus’ answer to Martha wasn’t what she was expecting. He told her that she was anxious… she was concerned only for her own wellbeing… she was troubled over all the things that needed to get done – that weren’t just right – that made her look like less than the perfect hostess. Only one thing is required. We don’t have to meet all the requirements – we just need to do the one thing that is needed. We don’t have to create an impressive gourmet meal – we just need to feed on the meal that is most important. Unlike you, Mary has made the right choice. She has given up self-righteousness to receive My righteousness. She has set aside her wearying to-do list to receive My rest. It is not wrong to want to accomplish things. It is not wrong to be compelled by a sense of duty and responsibility. The question is, are we compelled because being busy makes us feel important – that our identity is found in what we accomplish? It is better be about the things that the Lord has for us by His grace – working with Him, than futilely ticking off all the boxes that we or society has placed on us. Mary made the right choice. We can, too.