Day 21: The Conundrum Of The First Commandment


Yesterday we looked at the staggering reality that Jesus called Mary's preoccupation with Him the good part. Throughout this series we established that Mary's choice did not happen in a vacuum. She was not part of a convent. She did not live a secluded life. Her act of sitting at His feet and listening to His words was breaking with the traditional understanding of the role of women and the expectations of everyone around her. Her life was not tailored for her lifestyle. The point is: If Mary chose the good part it is available to choose for every one of us.

But Martha, our inner critic, immediately chimes in: No one gets fed by me sitting at the feet of Jesus. Laundry does not folds itself. Pots do not clean themselves.

The small village of Bethany was known for caring for the poor and the sick and titled 'the house of misery' for this very reason. When Jesus said "You will have the poor with you always" this was very true of Bethany. It was in the context of dire need that Jesus Himself defended extravagant 'waste' of time and money on Him.

The two people that challenged Jesus' priorities challenged them for very different reasons than what they stated: Martha's true issue was not her care for others but being overworked and troubled. Judas' true issue was not his care for the poor but being a thief himself. The accusation for loving God sounds reasonable until we realize the true motive of our objection likes to mask itself behind the second commandment. The truth is we can very well hide an anxious and troubled spirit behind lots of pots and pans and noisy activity.

God is all about serving and giving. One cannot read the Bible and think otherwise. But in His kingdom love starts with being loved and serving starts with being served. Jesus said: Without me you can do nothing. Unless you abide in me you will bear no fruit (John 15:4-5). Pursuing the first commandment first is the fountain that overflows into every other aspect of our life. The fruit He is after does not grow well in the soil of our own strength.

Not every season of life yields itself to long hours of focused meditation. But every season of life invites us to rearrange our priorities around what really matters. He made it very easy for weak and human beings like us – not a ten step plan, not five points that lead to happiness, no three golden rules – just one thing.