Motorcycles were roaring once again throughout the Big Island as we observed Labor Day. Even during the pandemic, biker groups could be seen coasting the roads. Believe it or not, this holiday has been celebrated by our country since 1894.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor website, “Labor Day is an annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers. The holiday is rooted in the late nineteenth century, when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.” Basically, this holiday is given to celebrate the work that Americans do year-round.
The idea of work is a great thing. We contribute to society, our economy, and community. The same can be said about our spiritual life. Works for God can be a great thing. We can contribute to the church body in many ways. Yet it’s easy to get fixated on DOING things for God, while we ignore BEING with Him. Luke writes about a scenario where Jesus went to the house of Martha, and her sister Mary:
39 She (Martha) had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:38-42
Who can you relate more to, when assessing your day-to-day lives? Most of us would probably say, “Martha.” After all, we live in a culture that is fixated on work. In fact, when asked the question, “who are you?”, many would respond by sharing what they do for a living. We even associate with Martha when we say things like, “So much to do, so little time.” It feels good to work partly because we see immediate results. But quality time is important as well. This difficult balance of good works and quality time is what I call the “Mary, Martha Complex.”
In contemplating the meaning of this story, I thought of one of the most influential people throughout my life, magician David Copperfield. Now think about this scenario. What if David accepted my invitation to come to my house for dinner?! That would be amazing! I feel giddy just thinking about it :)
I would have so many questions to ask. It would be incredible to hear him share stories from his life. Just having the opportunity to be in the same room with him, and “talk stories” would be incredible.
Now picture this. David shows up a few hours early, and rather than spend time with him, I stay in the kitchen cooking and prepping dinner. Now I definitely would have the right intention in wanting him to have a wonderful meal. But, perhaps it could signify that I’m more interested in impressing David, than actually being with him.
Such is the danger we can enter as Christians. We can get so focused on tasks, that we ignore spending time with God. How easily we can begin our day - so eager to serve and do great things - yet, forget to pray. We move on to our workplace, or school without having read a devotional or scripture. We can come home to complain about all the house chores we need to do...all the while forgetting that God’s instruction for us is to, “Do everything without complaining.”
Spending time with God is a necessary balance for serving Him. It will also enhance the way we work for Him. We must remember that we don’t earn God’s love with our works, but we do it because Christ first loved us. It’s important not to get so fixated on working for God that we avoid quality time with Him. So, how are you doing with this “Mary-Martha Complex?”
In this month where we have observed Labor Day, let’s be reminded of our motive as we express our labor of love for Him. We serve, and do good works BECAUSE of Christ’s love, not TO EARN His love. Serving God is NOT a bad thing. However, it should never get in the way of spending time with Him.
Join us this month as we spend time with God through prayer, reading the Bible, and journaling...and also join us as we do good works for God. So…are you SERVING, or SPENDING? Let’s try to aim to do both as we find that beautiful balance of SERVING Him, and SPENDING time with Him.