Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 11 November 21:
John 12:2-3 — Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair.
This should be a familiar scene, Martha serving Jesus while Mary sat with the Lord. Remember the first time this took place as recounted in Luke 10?
- Luke 10:38-42 — Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
The primary difference in the two stories is Martha’s heart toward service. In both events, Martha served while Mary sat, but previously Martha served resentfully, anxiously, and pridefully, comparing her effort to Mary’s lack of effort. Martha’s attitude ruined her fellowship with the Lord and with Mary, and Martha ultimately presented Jesus with a complaint rather than a humble, loving, gift of service. Martha didn’t share Jesus’ heart of grace and, therefore, was out of fellowship with Him, much like the older son who lacked the father’s heart of grace towards the younger son in the parable of the prodigal son. (Luke 15) However, today Martha serves Jesus without complaint.
Jesus changes hearts. Interestingly, Luke doesn’t record this second meal between Martha, Mary, Lazarus, and Jesus, but John does. Perhaps because John appreciated firsthand how Jesus transforms resentful hearts into loving hearts. Remember, Jesus had nicknamed John a ‘Son of Thunder’ because John had suggested Jesus call down fire from Heaven to consume a Samaritan village which denied them lodging. (Luke 9:51-56) However, after walking with Jesus for three years, John became known as the “Apostle of Love,” and John wrote about love more than any other Biblical author. John even described himself as “The disciple whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23; John 19:26; John 21:7) Jesus transformed prideful, resentful John into humble loving John.
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. (2 Corinthians 13:5) How has God changed your heart? A good test is how you serve others. Do you serve others joyfully and peacefully without concern over reward or fairness, or do you find yourself resenting what others aren’t doing or the lack of recognition you receive from others? Does your service make you anxious and hinder your fellowship with God and with others? Or are you overjoyed to give people what they don’t deserve so you can display the grace of God to them?
- Luke 6:35 — But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
- Ephesians 6:5-8 — Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.
- Hebrews 12:15 — See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled….
- Matthew 5:41 — And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
- 1 Peter 4:10-11 — As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
- Galatians 5:13-14 — For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
- Matthew 20:28 — Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
- John 13:12-14 — When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
- Mark 9:35 — And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
- Matthew 23:11 — The greatest among you shall be your servant.
- James 2:14-17 — What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 11 November 21: Pray that God will strengthen the love, grace, joy, and peace you bring to serving others. Pray that God will increase in you a heart that pours out your very best to others as a gift of grace, without need of recognition or reward, out of gratitude for the amazing, unmerited grace you have received through Christ, and because you simply desire to love God and others “with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27)