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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Being Loved, Just Because

Every sermon I’ve heard about Martha refers to her inability to stop working. She’s considered a busy woman too preoccupied with distractions to sit and be with Jesus. Personally, I see more truths buried in this story, maybe because I see myself.

I see a comparison that is staggering. Martha displays striving to please, while Mary is resting in His presence. Martha was proving her love; Mary was responding to His love. Martha is focused on her work; Mary is focused on God’s. Martha is a picture of religion; Mary is a picture of relationship. Religion is about requirements while relationship is about response.

In the midst of growing up in the church I was taught that what I did made a difference. If I had my quiet times, prayed my prayer lists, volunteered for ministries, gave my tithe, I would be giving my life back to God. It’s what was required if I wanted to prove I loved Him.

I thrived on my efforts for God. Somehow it made me have value to Him and His kingdom. I missed the point of the relationship, the cross, the resurrection and my life. God didn’t bring me here to work for Him or fulfill requirements. He brought me here to love me, just because.

I diminish the work of the cross when I put myself in a position of “have to’s”. The cross restored the broken relationship with God and the resurrection brought me new life. I have nothing left to prove. I don’t owe anything. I have nothing to pay back. If I try to pay back the gift of relationship and love, I diminish the purpose of the cross and the resurrection. The cross finished the work, removing the “have to’s, bridging the gap so that I might experience deep, intimate love without requirements.

I believe Martha wanted to please Jesus. I don’t think that Martha preferred being busy with preparations. I think she thought it’s what was needed from her. I believe that she was loving Him in the only way she knew. I think she felt more comfortable doing for Him then being with Him. I don’t think she understood that He was already pleased with her. I think Jesus wanted her to stop trying to prove her devotion, and receive as free, all the love He had to give her.

We become Martha’s because we are more comfortable with doing something for Him than just being loved by Him. Somehow we feel it is our duty. We believe we are supposed to repay Him with our lives.

Our doing makes us feel pleasing, somehow. Underneath the busy woman is a woman who isn’t comfortable being loved as she is. She’s not even comfortable being alone with herself. She’s the woman who volunteers for everything at the church, is the most disciplined woman in her Bible study and quiet times and is busy dabbling in all sorts of places. When she misses her quiet time she feels guilty. She strives for perfection in her relationship with God, because she sees her imperfection and is uncomfortable with who she is before Him. She doesn’t feel like she’s enough. Therefore, she’s still trying to earn.

I know, I was that woman. Underneath the work was a woman longing to be enough to be worthy of love, and somehow be found pleasing. All along I was pleasing to Him. All along He saw me just as I was and loved me still. He loved me, because love is His nature. It’s not about what I do, it’s about who He is.

I don’t see Jesus’ words to Martha as a rebuke. That doesn’t fit His heart. I see His words as affirmation and invitation. I hear, “Martha, I see all that you are doing to please me, but all I want is you.” “I want you to know how deeply and intimately I love you, just because.”

He says to you, to me and to Martha, “stop your efforts, be still, come let me love you, just as you are” “I am delighted with you.” “Nothing you do will make me love you more.” “You can cease from your work and rest in mine.” “You already please me, just because.”

Questions for reflection:

So, what about you? Are you comfortable in your own skin before Jesus? Does working for Him somehow make you feel of greater value? Do you hide away in busyness afraid to face that person within? What is your motive in what you do? Do you see how intimately and deeply He loves you, just because?


Jesus, may we fully rest in the reality of your great love. You are truly amazing. You revealed to us the heart of our God. May we enter in just as we are to be loved totally, completely and unreservedly, just because.

You can find Julie at her blog: Jewelz Sightings



Blogger blessu said...

Thanks Julie. This is a timely message for me. A good reminder
of what Jesus really wants from me. He calls us to love him, not only to work for him. Amen.

August 12, 2008 at 2:14 AM  
Blogger Simply me said...

Julie; I know I have to STOP trying to please God and rest more in HIM and understand that He loves me just because....

August 12, 2008 at 6:01 AM  
Blogger Denise said...

Praise God for loving me.

August 12, 2008 at 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Patricia@Typing One-Handed said...

Julie, My perspective needed that adjustment! I was raised to believe doing is the same as being. And not doing perfectly was cause for ridicule and put downs, which led to assumption that my imperfections made me ridiculous and unworthy.

Thanks for reminding me of the real me I am in Christ.

August 12, 2008 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Tiffanie said...

I go back and forth between knowing and trusting that God loves me as I am, and trying to do better and be better so that I can "deserve" His love.

I love what you wrote... "Religion is about requirements while relationship is about response" and "I think she felt more comfortable doing for Him then being with Him. I don’t think she understood that He was already pleased with her."
Lot's to ponder...

Great post!

August 12, 2008 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger Angie said...

Julie---this was great!!!
"Religion is about requirements while relationship is about response." That is where I have found myself so often in the past...fulfilling the "requirements" and forgetting the my response--and relationship!
You have hit the nail on the head! (My head in times past!) I strive to devote more to the alone time with Him. It is what keeps me going!
This was such a great post!

August 12, 2008 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger Darnelle said...

(Before the end of the first paragraph, I knew who had written this devotional. Your heart always shines through!)

You definitely hit a nerve in most of us. It seems that it takes most people half a lifetime to figure out that the Lord really just wants us in His presence. I still catch myself, so often, working hard at "ministry" hoping to please Him.

" I don’t think she understood that He was already pleased with her."

Yep. You hit the nail on the head. You always do. Wonderful word.

love ya!

August 12, 2008 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger a woman found said...

great post and needed for every person who calls themself a Christian. i too grew up in the church and yet didn't taste of the lavish love of my Jesus until i finally knew nothing i did do was good enough...everything He did is!

after that i was even more on fire to serve Him, not because i wanted to make Him love me, but because i tasted of the love I never could earn, a love that was already mine.

he still has to call me away sometimes and let me see the impossibleness of what He's doing through me so that I'll stop trying to earn it and just believe that He's already done it!

Thanks for this reminder.

August 12, 2008 at 6:24 PM  
Blogger windycindy said...

I think that people have different approaches to their relationship with God. I don't necessarily think one is better than the other. God will straighten us out in his time. Thanks, Cindi

August 13, 2008 at 1:20 AM  
Blogger NeverAlone said...

All of what you said has its application; and yet, if a person is moved to serve and it's a joyful thing to do, there's nothing wrong with that. It's when it is done out of a sense of duty, or resignation, or bitterness that no one else will do it, or when it takes away from your worship of Christ that something is wrong. I think God is pleased with our service that He has inspired and that is done in love for Him and others.

August 15, 2008 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Marsha said...

Julie, I loved this devotional, but this one line really stuck out for me: "I diminish the work of the cross when I put myself in a position of “have to’s”." That was me for so many years, having my check list of to-dos so I could be 'spiritual' and a 'together Christian'.

Thank you for being His instrument.

August 15, 2008 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

I just wanted to pop in and say one more thing:

One of the ladies talked about God being pleased with our serving that He inspired.

That's it totally. It's not the serving that we feel we have to do, or find ourselves doing out of "have to's" or obligation or duty. It's a serving that comes from being intimately connected with Him in relationship first and foremost.

He will inspire us to do those things that He desires for us to do to spread His heart to others. The difference is doing them out of His invitation instead of our obligation. There's a difference.
One is driven by God, the other is driven by us.

I love allowing His heart to flow through me in service to others.

Thanks all for your kind words and sharing your hearts here.


August 15, 2008 at 5:25 PM  

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