A few like minded people from around the globe got together at a course in India conducted by Magazine Training International, USA. (They continue to host such courses but I haven’t been able to attend). Electives were offered for various components of a Christian magazine production- writing, editing, managing, graphics etc.
At the end, we had a cultural program. I volunteered to sing a Christian song in Karnatic style as I am trained in vocal and instrumental Karnatic (Southern Indian classical) music. My colleagues of the editing elective and I did a group skit. The Sri Lankans decided to do a group dance – a local Sri Lankan folklore dance called the baila. How could I resist that? (That’s what the featured image is all about!).
Reflecting back on that reminds me of my desire to support and work with teams as well as being able to work individually. This personality type is of course brought to the area of “ministry” too. I have the ministries in which I work alone in the sense of writing, online ministries and also one-on-one being a friend to the lonely or hurting or lost. Of course, nothing we do is “independent” if we walk in the Lord – even in these I have people partnering with me without whom these ministries can’t take place. Through offering moral support, encouragement, spiritual intercession, sharing of resources etc I have a large number of people who are working with me behind the scenes, to make these possible.
On the other hand, I also have a desire to help others and to help their ministries. Having being blessed by God with a wide variety of talents and abilities, I tend to get carried away in supporting other ministries that I often neglect my own work. I have to admit my book writing was shoved to the shelf as a result of this. This is an area I often struggle with – to know the balance of when to help and when to focus. Yes, it is an area where God has rebuked me much.
Mary and Martha – God reminds me! Martha was “worried and upset about many things”, well that’s what Jesus told her. What was she doing at the time Jesus said this? She was distracted with all the preparations “that had to be made” to serve – serve none other than Jesus Himself (and perhaps those who came with Him). Mary had chosen to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to every Word He spoke. Martha was irritated with her and even asked the Lord didn’t He care that she was left alone to do the work!! The work to serve Him at that too! Nonetheless the Lord doesn’t rebuke Mary but exalts her saying she has chosen what is better, what will not be taken away. If you and I were to witness such a situation, I’m sure we would (well I think I would anyway) condemn Mary for being either lazy or irresponsible or selfish to let Martha do all the work. But she chose what is important – Jesus made that clear. What does this say about ministry that distracts from relationship with God?
It’s also interesting to note that the passage that precedes this story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 was the parable of the Good Samaritan! Jesus had finished speaking on love and mercy, stressing on relationship with others, then stops at the home of these sisters and emphasizes on relationship with God to be what is needed.
Another word that God keeps reminding me of is the incident that follows:
… the Hellenistic Jews … complained because their widows were being overlooked … So the Twelve … said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” – Acts 6:1-4
We live in a society where leadership would condemn those who refuse to ‘serve’ in various ways outside of their calling – the latter is “judged’ to be not humble. Yet in saying that I should not neglect the ministry that God has given me doesn’t mean other ministries are ‘beneath me’ or any lesser than the ministries that God has entrusted to me. It’s just that God has equipped each one of us differently to all come together for His Kingdom purposes. Each one has a role. What we do needs to be within our calling… Paul gave up waiting on tables..It’s not about humility but being good stewards of what God has called us to do…
Can a faith that does nothing be called sincere? – Jean Racine
We see Martha was worried about serving Jesus while Mary opted to sit at the feet of Jesus listening to Him. Jesus saw the latter was what is needed. We see the Twelve making it clear that they shouldn’t neglect the ministry of the word of God to wait on tables. See the nature of the seven they chose to hand over the responsibility of waiting on tables – men who were known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom! In being faithful to God, the twelve validated the other callings too…
If we aren’t doing what He is asking us to do, we aren’t being faithful to Him. Jesus went about the Father’s business, are we doing likewise?
Watch where Jesus went.
The one dominant note in His life was to do his Father’s will.
His is not the way of wisdom or of success, but the way of faithfulness – Oswald Chambers
Where do you stand today?
Are you FAITHFUL to God as much as He is faithful to you?
When men cease to be faithful to their God, he who expects to find them so to each other will be much disappointed. – George Horne
What is stopping us from being faithful to Him? Is it being worried and upset about many servings like Martha? Is it a different calling from what has been entrusted to us? Is it love for our family members or our career and selfish ambitions or is it even our studies? Is it the fear of the unknown or the insecurities of leaving our comfort zones? What is holding you back today?
Faith in God is a terrific venture in the dark – Oswald Chambers