Daily Reform, Day 223
Galatians 3:2 and Luke 10:38-42
From the Reformer
What did Jesus say to Martha when she was very “careful and troubled about many things” and could hardly stand to see her sister Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, just listening? “Martha, Martha,””Jesus said, “thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” A person becomes a Christian not by working, but by hearing. The first step to being a Christian is to hear the Gospel. When a person has accepted the Gospel, let him first give thanks unto God with a glad heart, and then let him get busy on the good works to strive for, works that really please God, and not man-made and self-chosen works.
—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Pulling It Together
I heard it again this week while calling on a church member. He told me that another member had stopped by to see him and said, “I wish you would come to church more often.” His response was, “Well, some of us have to work.” There are two odd things about his response. The first is that it shifted guilt to the person who chose to be with Jesus instead of work. “I am working while you just go to church.” The second odd thing is that he does not work on Sundays anyway. He does however, golf and travel. This sad and common story is illustrative of two finer points.
One is found in the old gospel story of Martha, who had felt that she much work to do and railed at her sister, Mary, for spending time with Jesus when she might have chosen to help in the kitchen instead. But Jesus said that Mary had chosen better than Martha. No matter what, be where you are listening to Jesus. When the world cries, “Work!” Listen to Jesus. When the devil cries, “Sinner!” Listen to Jesus.
The other point our Sunday worker illustrates is finer yet. Many church folk think that working is the main thing, the deciding factor. It is as if to say, “Look at me! See how hard I work? I am better than those pew-sitters.” This extends from serving on a committee to show what a good church member you are to having to do something to show whether or not you are even Christian. I have said it before and I will keep saying it because so many people do not grasp it and because, of those who do understand, the devil would chase this good doctrine from their hearts. So I remind you that there is nothing you need to do to be a Christian. Sit with Jesus and believe that he loves you. Get out of the kitchen and listen to his teaching. This is the better thing.
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with Luther in Galatians