January 7, 2014

Stop Doing

Written by Boyd Bailey

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today- January 7, 2014

“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 10:41-42

American culture is plagued by hyperactivity without productivity. We think being busy equals importance or a frantic pace is a path to success. Like a pack mule loaded down with an overabundance of supplies, we pack our calendar to the breaking point. We play mind games with ourselves that busyness is what’s best for our family, but the real outcomes are: relational emptiness, health challenges and irritable emotions. We even justify being over active for Jesus.

Perhaps a wiser start to the year is a stop doing list. As Jesus instructed Martha, we need to take an inventory of our activities and ask what is really needed. What has served its purpose for a season, but is now unnecessary, even an obstacle to what’s best? Let go of emotional attachments and embrace margin for meaningful relationships. Is it time to stop a sports program, a long commute or a tired volunteer role? Become better with contemplation and strategic availability.

When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Matthew 18:18

It takes courage to take the route trafficked infrequently, but the ride is less stressful and more enjoyable. Avoid going where everyone else is going, nowhere fast. A fast track is too fast when it starves our faith. We find ourselves with very little left over time for prayer, Bible study, worship and community. Give what’s important first priority on the calendar. Worry works itself out of a job when we work out our bodies, feed our minds, heal our emotions and rest our souls.

By faith stop doing something each week or month that has passed its prime time. Be patient to not rush and fill a gap in your calendar with crowded appointments. Blocks of discretionary time give you availability for spontaneous service. Yes, take a step back from the myopic trees bunched together, so you can see the imaginative forest of faith. Anyone can be busy, some can be productive, but few walk by faith and watch God do more. So, stop doing good to do better.

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the faith to let go of the good, so I can enjoy Your best.

Related Readings: Psalm 61:4; Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 8:41-43; Philippians 3:13

Post/Tweet today: Let go of emotional attachments and embrace margin for meaningful relationships. #stopdoing

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© 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
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  1. Matthew von Hobe says:

    Most of us live our values without consciously defining them. Whether we define them or not, they do govern our choices. But if we are going to put our values under a microscope and determine whether they are strong enough, good enough or big enough, we need to know what those values are.
    The diagnostic question that has worked well for me is this: “What makes me feel good about myself?”
    Let’s apply this to the classic story of Mary and Martha. Martha is frequently denigrated in this story, perhaps unfairly. It appears to me that each woman was living out her identity value, not a consciously selected theological paradigm.
    Martha felt good about herself when she was offering quality hospitality. This is a legitimate value. The hospitality value was something that Martha learned from her culture. From the days of Abraham, offering high levels of hospitality to visitors, especially to visiting spiritual leaders, was considered fundamental to the culture. The Mosaic Law specifically defined the moral obligation to provide a certain level of hospitality to strangers of other races because of the fact that Egypt offered hospitality to Israel when they were in need. In the Jewish culture, offering quality hospitality to a Rabbi was almost considered a holy obligation.
    Martha had absorbed all these values from her culture and she was trying to serve Jesus Christ in these ways because of who He was. She did not want to shortchange Him in the least. Her values system said: “I feel good about myself when I extend maximum honor to Jesus Christ.” Her core value was superb. Her culture put a spin on that value, defining “maximum honor” in terms of haute cuisine.
    Mary on the other hand apparently wanted to learn from Jesus. Depending on which perspective you use to look at the text, you could almost see a selfish bent to her actions. Martha wanted to give to Jesus. Mary wanted to take from him. Or perhaps Mary understood that people who wanted to hear the deep things of the Kingdom also honored Jesus. Perhaps Mary enjoyed the personalized attention. Perhaps Mary disliked housework. We don’t know what her motivation was. We do know that her choice made her feel good about herself to the point that she was willing to violate a major social norm by not serving and she was willing to incur her sister’s wrath in order to sit at Jesus’ feet.

    1. Gwynne says:

      Dear Matthew~
      Thank you very much for your interesting perspective on Mary and Martha. I agree with you in that Martha does get “a bad rap” at times in this particular story. I believe the point to this particular devotional was more about our “need” to stay busy in today’s culture and what we could be missing. Personally speaking, I know this “captivity of activity” can rob one of precious quiet time with God.
      “Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

      Again, thank you for your perspective. It is definitely “food for thought”!

      We are thankful that you are a fellow wisdom hunter. May this new year bring you joy and good health.

      Believing and trusting~
      Gwynne Maffett
      Wisdom Hunters

  2. pam vigil says:

    ‘myopic trees’ don’t exist….

    myopia is a condition of the viewer, not of the object being viewed…

    I’ve noticed you don’t pay a lot of attention to effective writing skills, something you might want to consider in the best interest of your readers…

    You can do better….please!

    1. Boyd says:

      Pam well said, grateful for you helping me improve. All the best. Praying, Boyd

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