Have you ever wrestled with whether to pray or whether to act? I propose that both are needed in the body of Christ in this hour. We need both Mary and Martha to come together in a powerful convergence.
Are you motivated by love from a pure heart? Are you a "burning one" or a "burned-out one"? Compassion ministry, or whatever you want to call it, can be very draining and exhausting. But it doesn't have to be. It depends on your motivation and your approach. It should not drive you, but rather God's heart should lead you. Do you see the difference? Do you live the difference?
"Thus says the Lord of Hosts: Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion, every man to his brother. Do not oppress the widow, orphan, sojourner, or poor. And let none of you contemplate evil deeds in your hearts against his brother" (Zech. 7:9-10).
Needed: A Convergence of Mary and Martha
Remember the story about Mary and Martha? In the past, I heard that "Mary chose the better part," and that Martha was reprimanded. I have often taught about the "Three Friends of Jesus" and how different they each were. No two friends are alike in your life, and they were not in the life of Jesus, either.
We need to look at these Scripture teachings on Mary and Martha a bit more closely. Part of the story takes place in John 11, and it revolves around Lazarus, who was Mary and Martha's brother. Mary was the one who had anointed Jesus' feet with perfume and wiped His feet with her hair. She was also the one who just wanted to sit at His feet and listen to Him speak, while Martha was in the kitchen preparing food (see Luke 10:38-39). There has been a lot of emphasis on Mary in recent years and the place in God she typifies. We all need to have the heart of Mary—loving to sit at His feet, period.
Martha, dear Martha! She was the one who received Jesus and welcomed Him into her house. Now, she did become distracted with much serving, and that was the point that Jesus spoke tenderly to her, redirecting her heart to "the better part," to worship Him (see Luke 10:41-42). But I believe He was wooing her, drawing her to Himself, not correcting or belittling her. She had messed up, had an attitude problem and had compared her serving and cooking to Mary's sitting. What a common error that is—a lesson many of us are still trying to learn.
When Lazarus was sick, the sisters sent word to Jesus (see John 11). Although Jesus loved Lazarus, He did not come right away, but rather waited until Lazarus died. By the time He came, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. John wrote:
"When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met Him, but Mary remained in the house. Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You may ask of God, God will give You'" (John 11:20-22).
Do you see a pattern? Not only was it Martha who welcomed Jesus into her house, and in that, to her city, but when her brother died, she was the one who met Him, and asked for her brother's life to be restored. We need Martha! It doesn't have to be, "Are you a Mary or a Martha?" The point? God wants us to be both.
There is no place for comparison in the kingdom of God, and we don't have to choose between either living a life of prayer and devotion or one of serving—we are to choose both. If in the past, you've considered yourself a Mary or a Martha and making that determination has disqualified you from being in the other camp, the wall is now torn down and the camp enlarged. It's time for Mary and Martha to come together. After all, they were sisters, and they did live in the same house. So should we.
Missing Body Parts
A thought has come to me concerning all of this. Once when I [Michal Ann] was in a deep place in prayer on the hard stone floor of the Elijah Inn in Pemba, Mozambique, I believe the Lord showed me something. As I lay there, while deep in a place of travail, intense heat and all of our team groaning and laboring for God's justice to be established in the land, I saw the body of Christ. I saw the call to have compassion and to act. But then I saw something else. The body thought it was functioning well and performing the will of God, but in actuality it had no bowel. It did not even realize that it was missing a major body part—one of the most important organs, where most of the nutrition comes from and feeds and brings nourishment to all the other body parts.
Of course, we need to pray—really pray that we get this, both individually and corporately. We need to pray for a miraculous release, The Lord has been showing different people that there are rooms in heaven that are full of body parts waiting for a wave of unprecedented healing anointing to be released. Why not pray for supernatural release for the body—a wave of unprecedented compassion across all lands, to all people groups, tribes, tongues and nations?
The world is literally screaming at us, desperate for help. According to recent studies, 75 percent of the world's population lives in poverty. Most of these people live in third-world or developing countries. The average annual gross income for individual workers in Western countries is $27,000. Contrast that with the rest of the world, where the average annual gross income is between $450 and $2,500 per person. What a difference!
Forty percent of the world's population consists of children. They are the ones who suffer more than all others. In fact, over one billion children are at risk today, and many have become actual victims of extreme poverty, homelessness, the loss of their parents, child labor, abuse, slavery, sexual exploitation, AIDS and other illnesses, and the effects of war and religious persecution.
In certain parts of the world, orphaned children are conscripted into armies and suffer sexual, mental, and physical abuse. They are forced to carry guns and trained to kill. At times, the governments involved are willing to "sell off " numbers of these children to ease their financial situations. Finances are needed today for these purposes. I know of dear, precious saints who are working behind the lines to rescue these children and give them hope for their destinies and to restore self-respect and self-esteem.
If those children were your children, or those people your family, don't you think your attitude would be different? I know mine would! And yet, that is what the Lord wants to do—enlarge our hearts to such a degree that "they" become "our family." They are His kids, the love of His heart, and we just don't seem to get it or care. When will we get it? When will we engage and do something about these needs? When will we lift up the fields and pray to the Lord of the harvest and then turn around and become the answers to our very prayers?
We Need Each Other
If we are missing compassion, then call it forth.If we are missing evangelism, then call it forth. If we are missing faith for provision, then call it forth. If we need more Marthas, then call them forth. If we need more Marys, then call them forth. If we need more Lazaruses, then call them forth. If we are missing significant parts of the body of Christ in a region, then let's pray to God and then do something about it.
We are better together! Passion needs compassion, and compassion leads to action. So which is it? Is it faith or works? Is it Mary versus Martha or is it Mary and Martha living in harmony together in the same house? I leave you with an urgent plea: "It is time in the body of Christ for Mary and Martha to get along."
We do it better together!
Father of all, thank You for the love and compassion You show me each and every day. Thank You for Your faith and mercy, Your grace and power, and Your Son Jesus Christ, in whom I trust and believe with all my heart. Let opposites attract. May there be a true convergence of the Marys and Marthas resulting in the testimony of the raising of the dead come forth. Let prayer with intimacy and works fueled by grace find one another. Amen and Amen!
Dr. James W. Goll is the founder of God Encounters Ministries, an award-winning author and communications trainer and has ministered in over 50 nations. For information on his webinars and online classes, visit godencounters.com. James continues to live in Tennessee and is a joyful father and grandfather today.
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