What Can God Do for You?
In the two stories found in Luke 10:38-42 and John 12:1-8, we see two different pictures of love for Jesus. In the first story, Martha is busy preparing an elaborate meal for Jesus. In the second, Judas Iscariot says that Mary’s perfume could have been sold and the money used for the poor. Mary, on the other hand, sits intently at Jesus’ feet listening to his teaching. Later, she engages in an extravagant act of devotion as she pours expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and wipes them with her hair.
Our 21st century inclination toward productivity and efficiency would agree with the choices of Martha and Judas. But Jesus commends Mary for making the better one—adoration and openness to being a disciple.
Martha and Judas were not wrong; their focus was misplaced. Their starting place was on”what I can do for Jesus,” and consequently, “how much will it cost me” to get this done. We can see this attitude and the inevitable comparing and judgment in Martha and Judas’ reactions to Mary’s choices. But Mary’s starting place was on what Jesus had done for her, and her resulting act of extravagance was merely a reflection of Jesus’ extravagant love and mercy towards her first.
In the end, the most important act in these stories is God’s love for us demonstrated in coming in the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ to redeem us. Nurturing God’s mercy and love in our hearts will compel us to acts of devotion without regard to personal cost. God does not need our help in solving the problems of our world. What God wants most from us is the devotion of our hearts.
—Ms. Susie Wong
- In what ways does the Church reward and value productivity and doing things for God, compared to being holy and Christ-like people?
- How much of your self-importance, worth, and identity comes from what you do?
- When you feel burned out or discouraged in serving others, what refreshes you and keeps you going?
- What kind of character is being produced in you as you serve a “martyr complex” like Martha’s or a generous spirit like Mary’s?
How Do I Act?
- Write down ways that God has demonostrated love for you. Reflect on these daily and nurture a heart of gratitude and love for God.
- Read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12. Go back and insert your name in each one. Confess to God those that are not true of you and ask that God begin to work these out in your life.
- Choose, instead of other activities that may come up, to spend time at Jesus’ feet reading the word and listening to him. This is not a time for prayer requests.