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Doing vs. Being

We are one day away from the long Memorial Day holiday weekend, the unofficial start to the summer. Many people will be heading to the beach while others will be having backyard barbeques. We often put so much time and effort into planning our big event that we fail to take time to enjoy it. Maybe you are hosting that cookout this weekend for family and friends. Not only do you spend lots of time and effort in the preparations but once the guests arrive you want to make the event as fun and relaxing so you spend all day waiting on everyone, and you never really get to sit and converse with your guests. Until your spouse tells you later that night, you did not know that your niece got engaged. Taking care of your house guests is not a bad thing, just sometimes it causes us to not be able to “stop and smell the roses.”

We often do the same thing with Jesus. We are so busy “doing” for Jesus that we fail to simply “be” with Jesus. There is a story in the Bible that you might be familiar with. It is found in Luke 10:38-42. Jesus stops by the house of his friends, sisters Mary and Martha. The text tells us that Martha was distracted by all the preparations that needed to be made while Mary simply sat on the couch and listened to Jesus. When Martha showed some displeasure with her sister for not helping with the work, Jesus gave her an answer that likely surprised her.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her.” (Lk 10:41-42)

What is Jesus saying? He was giving Mary and Martha, and is giving us today, a lesson on priorities. Jesus is not teaching the value of a contemplative life compared to a life of action, but instead He is teaching that serving Him and those around us should not fill our lives to the extent that we fail to spend time with Him. We cannot let our “doing” get in the way of our “being.”

We must learn to give our Lord and His Word priority even over loving service. To fellowship with Jesus, we might have to leave some things undone, even good and worthy things. Jesus is more interested in our undivided hearts than He is in our big acts of sacrifice.

So today we ask, are you more busy doing for Jesus than you are being with Jesus?

(This painting is titled “Martha and Mary” by He Qi.)

Dave Garrett

New Bern, North Carolina


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