Sanctification vs. Behavior Modification
If you have ever read the story of “Mary and Martha” (Luke 10:38-42), you have probably found yourself identifying with one of these two women. In this story, there are two sisters who couldn’t be any more different. Martha is the doer -- she is going, going, going, making sure everything is ready and at its best for Jesus and His disciples. Mary on the other hand, is the sister who chooses to be -- letting Martha do all the heavy lifting and instead spending some quality time with Jesus.
I’m going to be honest. I have never identified with Mary. I have read this story more times than I can count and every time, without fail, I find myself getting as exasperated as Martha towards Mary (vs 40.) All my life, I have been trained to do what you can, where you are, with what you have; anything less is laziness. The Lord has blessed me with the gift (and sometimes curse) of hospitality. I just feel like I’m not doing my part if I’m not getting my hands dirty, doing something.
In the past few months, I have been undergoing a sweet season of revelation in my quiet time with the Lord. Things I have always accepted about myself and my walk with Him have been put to the test. This process is not necessarily fun, but it has been so amazing to watch God pull the blinders off my eyes to things in my life that don’t bring Him glory.
One example occurred when I reread this story with a fresh pair of eyes and a willing spirit. I prayed that God would make me sensitive to this passage. What God revealed has humbled my heart.
We all sin. It’s a fact (Romans 3:23.) We Martha-types (or me, at least), find an illogical relationship between sinning and doing good stuff. I try to even the score -- all by myself. I mess up daily, no matter how hard I try not to, and believe me I try! If you could get inside my head, you would hear the constant dialogue between my mind and my heart.
“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” -Romans 7:15
Can any of you relate? It’s a constant tug-a-war between our flesh and the Spirit. When the flesh wins the battle, I find myself trying to “make up” for the sin I committed by keeping myself distracted enough until by “doing” I forget to just “be.” I know the Word tells us that works never earn us favor or grace from the Lord (Ephesians 2:9), but some part of me feels like grace itself is too good to be true.
This brings us to Mary. This amazing woman in scripture has become someone I have learned so much from. Jesus told Martha that Mary chose better -- that her time at the feet of her Savior and Lord would benefit her far more than the work Martha became so distracted with. Jesus always knows what He’s talking about. Maybe instead of trying to fix myself or earn some bonus points with God, I should let Him do the work of fixing me.
When we become a follower of Christ, we are called to become more like Him.
This process is called sanctification. This doesn’t happen on our own. It is COMPLETELY dependent on the Holy Spirit. We can try all day long to fix ourselves, and we may even succeed at it, but true change has to begin in the heart. If it is all about us fixing ourselves, God gets no glory. But we are called to partner with the Spirit to bring the Lord the glory He is owed.
[pullquote width="300" float="left"]We are called to partner with the Spirit to bring the Lord the glory He is owed.[/pullquote]
True transformation occurs when the Lord reveals Himself to us. When we have an encounter with Jesus and His word, we have to make a choice to be obedient and apply His truth to our lives, or disobey and walk away.
If we live our lives like Martha, distracted and worried, we miss out on the Truth of Jesus.
In our earthly eyes, Martha may have been doing something important, but if we heed Jesus’ words, we see that His plan for us is to discover His design and purpose for our lives through intentional time with Him.
The best way I have found to have revelation is by studying His word and being sensitive to His voice. We don’t have the luxury of sitting at the physical feet of Jesus like Mary did to hear His words, but we do have something she didn’t have -- His physical, written Word. It’s getting easier every single day to let the Lord work to transform me, instead of putting unnecessary stress and pressure on myself to do all the fixing. I encourage those of you who, like me, find yourself trying to do things instead of resting and growing in Christ to slow down.
The greatest benefit of setting aside the task list is the fulfillment becoming more like Christ gives you. I want to look more like my Savior every single day.
Join me in praying that Jesus, through the Spirit, begins a work in our lives that points others to Him, not to us. For such is the purpose of a generation of set-apart young women.
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