August 5, 2019

Active Life or Contemplative Life

Written by Boyd Bailey

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 5, 2019

Mary sat down attentively before the Master, absorbing every revelation he shared. But Martha became exasperated by finishing the numerous household chores in preparation for her guests, so she interrupted Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her. Luke 10:39-42, The Passion Translation

Jack and Gerri enjoy their summer home. Their reflective gaze of the sea, its rugged rock formations assaulted unrelentingly by feisty waves. A kind lighthouse in the distance shrouded by fog, beckons vessels lacking a clear view. The soothing drip of rain and the cool sea breeze are reminders of God’s refreshing love. But I am learning from my friends—their summertime seclusion is only an excuse to serve those in their community. Bible studies, prayer, counseling, games, books and intimate conversations over dinner, flow from their contemplative condition. What the Lord teaches them at His feet, they put in step toward caring for others.

Martha was active. Mary was contemplative. Jesus complimented Mary and chided Martha. But was the Lord dismissing her service all together? Not at all. But, when Jesus is in the house and ready to speak, it is time to stop doing and start being. Martha was distracted by the temporal, while the eternal was in her presence. She had higher expectations of herself than Christ did, so much so, she called out her sister for not helping, even asking Jesus to intervene on her behalf. Jesus refused to take from Mary her moment to sit at His feet. Love is content to be with Christ. 

“It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:2-4, NASB).

Is it better not to serve, if our service is a distraction to sitting still in silence and solitude with Jesus? Probably. Can we use the excuse of using our time of contemplation as a substitute of rarely serving, if at all? Probably not. God’s heart is for our heart to be stilled before Him, before we go before others in service and love. If we speak the gospel without first being transformed by the gospel, we lack the full power of the Holy Spirit. An active life for the Lord flows from a rich and rewarding contemplative relationship with the Lord. Love sits at the feet of Jesus.

Love is also the hands and feet of Jesus. Contemplation on Christ’s great love for us, compels us to extend His great love to others. His love is creative, not without beautiful expressions. An unhurried evening in our home to laugh, tell stories and enjoy each others’ company. Avoid the trap of needing to present a perfect house with the latest gadgets, and instead, rest in the gift of providing a home with the aroma of God’s perfect love, seducing all who inhale its sweet smell. When we are comfortable being ourselves, others become comfortable being themselves. Serve yes, but not at the expense of first experiencing Jesus. Love sits before it stands to serve. 

“I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless” (John 15:5, The Passion Translation).

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I pray my doing for others flows from by being with you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.


Application

What service requires me to slow down and spend more time with my Savior?


Related Reading

Psalm 27:4; Matthew 6:33-34; Romans 7:6; Galatians 5:13; Philippians 3:3


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What our Lord teaches us at His feet in prayer, puts our feet in step to serve others. #WisdomHunters # #Jesus #trust


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