This week’s “Bible and money” focus is on Luke 10:38-42, where Jesus teaches Mary and Martha and the disciples a lesson in ministry and money motivation…
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 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!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42
This is such an interesting story on a couple of different levels…but what does it have to do with money? Let me make some observations from the text, and then share a couple of money applications.
Martha had the world’s most important person in her home, and it sounds like she was working hard to be a good host and make sure everything was just right for him and the other guests. Perhaps she was cooking food and preparing drinks – or maybe she even had to run to the market to get supplies.
All of that is good, right?
Except that she got so overwhelmed and worried about all the work that “needed” to be done for Jesus that she wore herself out.
AND…she got angry that her sister Mary wasn’t helping at all. She was just sitting there listening to Jesus teach.
So, was Martha doing all of this work to truly serve Jesus and the others? Or did it become a performance thing where she felt she had to spend a lot of money and do a lot of work so that everything was just right in her mind…or so that Jesus and others would be more pleased with her?
After working hard for a long time all by herself, Martha had had enough! She asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her with the preparations. Didn’t he see how hard she had been working for him?
I find it interesting that Jesus didn’t applaud and commend Martha for all of her busyness and hard work, and for all the money she spent on all the food, drink, etc.
Not At all.
Instead, Jesus pointed out that she took on a burden that wasn’t hers to bear.
He said “A few things are needed – and really only one.” To enjoy the presence of God and wait on his word.
Serving God shouldn’t produce feelings of stress, worry, and fear. If we start to feel these things like Martha did, we’d better check to see if we’re really serving him, or serving our own ego.
Jesus was physically right there in Martha’s house, and she was so busy trying to make everything “just right” that she couldn’t enjoy his presence.
Memo to self:
If you’re so busy working and serving God and trying to do all the “right” things financially according to Dave Ramsey and the Bible, but you don’t feel God’s presence in what you’re doing, you may be doing it for the wrong reason!
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to check your ministry and money motivation…
- Do I feel God’s presence when I give to the church or to help meet the needs of others?
- Do I feel joy in stewarding my resources in a way that honors God?
- Can I spend money on a family vacation or buy something nice from time to time without feeling guilty for what God or others might think about it?
- Am I working so hard for God and to provide for my family but I can’t take the time to rest and rejuvenate and just sit in his presence for a while?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may be doing some very nice things for all the wrong reasons.
But the good news is that there are some simple solutions to this situation:
- Pause – Stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath. Ask yourself if you’re really doing it for God or for some other reason.
- Pray – Ask God to give you joy, peace, and an abiding sense of his presence. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing with him leading the way.
- Peruse – Grab your Bible and start reading it, listening for God’s wisdom and guidance for your life.
It’s amazing how stopping, praying, and reading God’s word can give us a renewed sense of perspective in no time.
I can really relate to Martha in this story. I know there have been times when I’ve allowed myself to get overworked, overwhelmed, and worried doing some very good things – things that even have kingdom impact – because it was really more about me than God.
What about you? Have there been times when you’ve had to check your money motivation to make sure you’re doing the right things for the right reasons?
Please share your experience in the comments!