Luke 10:38 - 42
ESV - 38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching.
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I would say that the situation presented by the cited passage is not a matter of "either/or", but one of priorities or order. All the works or service in the world will not gain salvation if one has not first listened to Christ's teaching (as Mary was doing) and come to Him for salvation through faith, which Jesus described as the one thing that was truly needful.
I agree with Tim that sometimes our priorities are misplaced. And that, as Jack said, Martha got a little carried away with her work. I also think this has a lot to do with personalities and spiritual gifts. Our personalities sometimes get in the way of how easily we can relax and focus on what's most important. When I was a church administrator, I think I took my job too seriously and didn't enjoy the presence of Jesus when I could or should have. I was definitely a Martha (but, I didn't cast blame like Martha was in the habit of doing). But since I retired, I'm becoming more of a Mary, I hope. And, seems like the work usually gets done somehow.
In the first place, I do not think that Jesus needed that elaborate of a meal. Martha was getting a little carried away. Mary had probably done her part already in the kitchen and then sat at Jesus’ feet listening to His precious teaching. Martha definitely was not being humble when she accused her sister of sloth. She even stooped to accuse Jesus, the Lord of all, of not caring: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? (Luke 10:40). Our worship must lead to our working for Jesus, but it must always precede it, as well. Dr. Warren Wiersbe said, “Often in my pastoral ministry, I have asked people with serious problems, “Tell me about your devotional life.” The usual response has been an embarrassed look, a bowed head, and the quiet confession, “I stopped reading my Bible and praying a long time ago.” And they wondered why they had problems!”
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