November 9: Legalism, an Obstacle to Worship

Read Luke 10:39-42

“And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching” (v. 39).

Every time we meet Mary of Bethany in Scripture, she is at the feet of Jesus. In fact, perhaps the most beautiful, most poignant story of Jesus-worship in all the Bible happened that night she showed up with the most expensive perfume available and poured it on His feet in pure adoration for the One she loved.

Martha worshiped Him differently. She used her gift of hospitality to serve Jesus any chance she got. Which was great. Until her focus shifted from who she was worshiping to how she worshiped Him.

That shift of focus opened her eyes to what her sister Mary was not doing.

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone” (v. 40)?

When Martha let herself get distracted by all she had to do, she forgot the reason she was doing it at all. She let her to-do list define her relationship with Jesus rather than letting her relationship with Jesus define her to-do list.

It’s easy to do. We get busy serving God with the gifts He’s given us. We let ourselves get so busy, in fact, we can’t remember why we even started doing it — to worship Jesus with our service.

We get distracted by the ever-growing list of things we’ve given ourselves to do and start to believe our way is the only way to bring glory and praise to the One we love. It’s a form of legalism that is, unfortunately, all-too-common.

But Jesus wanted Martha, and He wants us, to know the truth about worship.

“(Y)ou are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary” (vv. 41-42).

It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t tell Martha to sit down and stop working. Her problem was her distraction from true worship.

How many times have you and I been just like Martha? We let ourselves get distracted by the way we serve instead of remembering the One we are serving. We let our frustration lead us down the path of comparison and show us all the ways other people are not serving. And before we know it we aren’t worshiping the One we set out to serve.

Let’s stop doing that. Let’s determine to serve God, to worship Him in all that we do, before we serve our to-do list and end up worshiping that. He will be glorified, and we will be ready to worship, just as we were created to do.


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