March 5, 2016

Luke 10:40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

This church had a running joke about Mary and Martha a few years ago, but it’s actually no joke. Different people have different gifting and so gravitate to different activities. That is exactly as it should be. Just yesterday I watched a video of a man playing Beethoven very skillfully on two different pianos. One was a normal piano, but the other had been specially modified so that every key played the same note. The English word that means “same note” is monotony! The whole point of the video,which had been made as an ad for some company which I don’t remember, was that unity doesn’t mean sameness, and that’s a very important point indeed. The problem in the story of Martha and her sister Mary was actually not in what they were doing, but in the resentment that Martha allowed to fill her heart. Resentment is a killer! It robs us of joy on several levels and makes us unable to appreciate people and events. The other side of the coin is that we are not to use our gifting as an excuse not to be kind or to help others. Don and Katie Fortune put out a very helpful book several years ago called Discover Your God-Given Gifts. Based on Romans 12:6-8, it not only has diagnostic tools to identify gifts, it also has lists not only of the strong points of each gift, but also of the weak points of that gift. When we know what our gifts are, we not only know where to focus our efforts, we also know what to be careful of so that we don’t wound and offend needlessly. In this story, Martha had the mindset that women were to take care of housework, and learning from a traveling rabbi was frivolous. Mary, on the other hand, simply wanted to absorb all she could of the words of life that came from Jesus. Under different circumstances, Mary had every reason to help Martha, but this situation was special. I personally think Jesus had some special blessing in store for Martha, but her resentment kept her from being open to receive it at that time. Later, when their brother Lazarus died, Jesus gave Martha the truth of His victory over death before he told Mary; (John 11) He wasn’t playing favorites.

As I was typing the passage in Japanese I could hear in my mind a particular lady in the church saying Martha’s lines. She has let resentment rob her of a great deal, and it is very sad. As a pastor I have to deal not only with my own gifting but also with those of every member of the church, and we are certainly diverse. Having Teacher gifting, I would rather not have to worry about all that! However, that is not an option, and I must not let resentment block the flow of the Holy Spirit through me. Sometimes I remind myself that Moses clearly was not gifted as an administrator, but God placed him in charge of His people, and with the help of his father-in-law and others he managed to get the job done. I would love to be able to wave a wand or say a few words and eliminate resentment from people’s hearts, my own and others, but it doesn’t work that way. I’ve got to receive the lessons God gives me and be His instrument in teaching others, so that together we may learn to reject the devil’s traps and walk in the light of God’s path for us, for His glory.

Father, it was striking how clearly I heard that lady’s voice as I typed. I ask Your mercy for her and for all who are tripped up by resentment, so that by letting go of resentment we may take hold of the peace and joy and life that You have for us, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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