I am much more like Martha than Mary. You know the story from Luke 10: Jesus visits the house of the two sisters, and Mary sits at Jesus’ feet while Martha does all the work and resents the fact that Mary is not helping. I have always kind of felt that she had a point; after all, so much needs to be done, and here is this person just sitting and listening.

As I have been working through Deuteronomy 5 at church I came, once more, across the Sabbath command. It is a strange command to make the top 10 really when you think about it. It enshrines rest as part of the law, and bans overwork. And it is full of clauses that stop us weaselling out of it! You can’t make your servants work, or your animals work, while you rest. You can’t even bring in a non-Israelite who cares nothing for your God to work for you and cover the Saturday shift! Everyone in your household needs to stop for the day.

And why? Because of this: 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deu 5:15 ESV)

I did not get where I am because I worked so hard, or because I am so diligent. I am where I am by God’s grace. And when I take time off to reflect on that I become less self-absorbed and more thankful that God is really the one in control and not me.

The temptation for anyone who has been gripped by the gospel of grace is to really strive and work and be an activist, work hard in your job to the glory of God, participate in every Bible study, evangelize everyone, work at public and private aspects of life 100% all the time. And as a pastor, when your Christian life and career merge, there is always so much ministry to do, things to prepare, people to meet, meetings to organize, that 8 days will not fit it in.

What I need to learn is that it is OK to not get everything done that I could possibly do. It does not all depend on me, even when it sometimes feels like it.

And it’s not just about not working too hard. There is more in the Mary/Martha comparison to glean here. Mary didn’t just relax from work; she listened and had a real relationship with her Saviour. And so must all Christians. If we are so busy we are not praying regularly, and are not listening to God’s word, and cannot relax, we have missed the point.

It does not all depend on me, or on you. Thank you Jesus.