MARTHA WORKING/MARY SITTING
BY: ROMEO CORSINI
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 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!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:38-42) Poor Martha. She was being mindful of the flesh and never saw an end to it to be able to sit and enjoy the Lord.
In life, there are many opportunities to feel neglected, unappreciated, depressed, condemned, overlooked, rejected, alone and unhelped. All these are demonstrations of the flesh being minded. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit the things of the spirit.” (Romans 8:5). All the things that bring you down, that cause you to stop to notice what the flesh is experiencing, are designed to separate you from the spirit. The flesh wars against the spirit. “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Galatians 5:17) These things are designed to take control that the flesh might dictate your nature. Husbands and wives are constantly challenged to choose the flesh over the spirit. Employers and employees are very often in the clutches of the flesh. Any relationship will have the warring activities between the spirit and the flesh. Yet we are admonished to walk after the spirit and not after the flesh. Easily said.
How many of us are continuously aware of the Lord each time the flesh wants to rule? The flesh wants to keep us from that which is better. Finish the dishes, set the table, prepare the meal; after all, all these things are important! So how do we do it? How do we overcome the flesh when it is obviously the dominant nature? I can be certain that of the two natures, the spirit and the flesh, the flesh is frequently more dominant because it is selected more often. Isn’t it true that the more you practice something the better you become at it? “As he thinks within himself, so is he.” (Prov. 23:7) So, how do we overcome the flesh?
Pretend. Live our lives as if we are joyful. It sounds as if I am saying to lie. I am not. I am saying stop identifying with the flesh and identify with the spirit. In the spirit we are satisfied and content because our fulfillment is the Lord. Our source is the Lord and not what comes from the earthly realm. From the earthly realm will come those who would overlook you for a raise at work when you deserve one, or from your children when they live their lives as if they had no clue about all that you might have done for them, or those who ridicule you at school, in public, or from your spouse who might not seem to be appreciating you as you would like, or even from yourself who might be thinking that you have had a rough life and deserve to be pitied, or when you find yourself “needing space to find yourself”, causing you to be willing to desert your family or your responsibility just to allow yourself to demonstrate your self-centeredness. All these things are nothing else but the flesh determined to tear you down and bring you to a place of submission under it. Pretend. Live your life as if you are content. Live your life as if you are worthy. For indeed you are! You are spirit and your spirit is made perfect after the likeness of God. Refuse the suggestion of the flesh that things are not as complete as you would like. Your will is not key here. The Lord’s will is key and in the Lord’s will all things are complete in him.
Jesus died on the cross and said, “It is finished.” For our sakes he laid down his life that it could be raised again, having first released his spirit, dividing it from his flesh. We all walk after the flesh. I do. And yet I do know the truth which is the solution: to walk after the spirit. In order to be spiritual, the solution is not to subjugate the flesh to torture, to sacrifices, to offerings, to beatings, to starvation. The flesh is to become angry, be mean spirited, seek vengeance, gossip, criticize, condemn, ridicule, lie, be self-centered and selfish. The spirit is other things: kindness (a kind word turns away wrath), purity, honesty, righteousness, favoring another…etc…. all the things that we know are good. The spirit can feed the flesh; the flesh cannot feed the spirit. The spirit feeds the flesh spirit while the flesh feeds the flesh more flesh. That is how it becomes more dominant. Spirit begets spirit and the flesh wars against the spirit. To be spiritual don’t deprive your flesh but rather fulfill your spirit. It’s not enough not to sin because sin has been dealt with. We must now entertain the spirit by praising and praying until the spirit is in control and not the flesh.
Our perspective is important if we are unsatisfied or hurt or abused or offended. If we are paying attention to those things then we are being mindful of the flesh because it is the flesh who has been offended. We are being mindful of the flesh and not considering the fact that God put us in the specific situation. If this is not so then we cannot thank God in all things. You are not rejoicing in the Lord in all things. If God put you there, which he did, then you must consider yourself an instrument of the Lord and he is to do his will using you. Having already considered that it is God who placed you where you are, whether at odds with someone or tempted to wallow in your own self-pity then you should be willing to be used of the Lord.
Are you miserable at work? You are not content in the Lord. The work place must be seen as an instrument the Lord is using to provide you with that which you need to be able to live your life: to pay your bills, provide for yourself and family to live in the Lord. You are the Lord’s slave, not your job’s slave. That’s not saying quit. It is saying, “Do not allow the negative situation to dictate how you go about behaving and thinking.” When we allow our flesh to feel for us all those negative things then we will be forced to carry it around and spend much precious time minding the flesh when we could be using it to solve our way out of the negative. You then would be allowing the instrument to be your source instead of God. Your source, being that you are mindful of the flesh, will be disappointing and all these other sad, negative things. There is room to go to those who are offending us and deal with it but first we must find the peace of God to know that he is our contentment so that we can continue whatever the outcome. Then we can go to them in peace. Because nothing in the Lord changes. Whether you like me or dislike me, am I not as fulfilled in the Lord as before? Whether I get a raise or not, am I not as responsible and as instrumental in the Lord? Whether at odds with my spouse, am I not obligated still to be who I am to her? The Lord has not changed and my relationship to him has not changed. I am obligated to him first, then to the “dishes.”
Jesus Christ fulfilled all the needs of the sacrifice to make us worthy of all of God’s kingdom. We have no business subjugating ourselves to a martyr’s syndrome as if to add to what Christ did. Some of us know this, others of us feel we would be pretending to live like that; yet, I tell you, I would rather have someone pretending to be nice to me than not. We are worthy! The trick is walking about knowing we are worthy and still be humble. All it takes is being grateful. Show me a man who is grateful and I will show you a man who is humble. If you are busy being worried about how you have been offended in the flesh, if you are busy being disillusioned, hurt, offended by the fact that you are not being appreciated, you are being mindful of the flesh and all that says is that you are not grateful enough to the Lord for what he has done and your focus has been dimmed.
The world says be fulfilled and you will be joyful. The spirit says be joyful and you will be fulfilled. This is why I say pretend because you are pretending the truth. You are joyful. If you don’t feel like it, just keep pretending and you will. As a man thinketh so is he. The joy of the Lord is your strength which is your fulfillment. It is important to become natural in the spiritual qualities and that we can only do by practice. You cannot learn to be joyful because you already are. It is something you must discipline yourself to do in order to realize it. Remember, we are complete in him. As spiritual persons we are to be pretending because it is the way to fight the onslaught of the flesh. If the flesh comes to you saying, ‘Oh, I’m depressed, I’m angry , I’m upset, I’m neglected, deprived, unappreciated, we either buy it or reject it, accept or deny it. Are we not saying that God has deserted us when we agree with the flesh? It is never true. I do not believe that God has deserted me when someone mistreats me or unjustly accuses me. Job found that he did not deserve all the horrible things that had happened to him; he also came to know that he was not to blame God. “Naked I came and naked I shall depart.” I am in God’s hands. Let his will be done. What can you do to me that has not been given to you to do? You have no power to do anything to me that you have not been empowered by God. Jesus told that to Pilate. “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above:” (John 19:11). If God therefore sees fit to have this done to me there is then a purpose and there is a good. But I must first be able to see God in it.
Only God will judge me. Let no man look upon me and say, “You must be a terrible person because you’re being afflicted. You are not liked by some, you are not given a raise, you’ve been unjustly accused, you’re not appreciated, you weren’t considered, and you’ve been ignored.” I will let only God be my judge. I will not even judge myself. (I judge myself when I permit these things to depress me and weigh me down.) After all, he is the one who died for me. My eyes will look up to his spirit and yearn to know his will during these “flesh-bursts”, knowing already that I am worthy in his eyes because of his son Jesus. I know my unworthiness without him; but I know my worthiness with him.
Elisha said to his servant, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. (II Kings 6:16-17)
Key to our perspective is our faith. Our faith must be constantly active to protect us from our own flesh that would be defeated by those who act out of their flesh. Our faith must tell us that God’s faith does not fail us. Perhaps we are too busy and therefore too irritable, causing our flesh to react. Let us remember to be grateful that we might be humble. Let us remember that we are here for the Lord, not for ourselves. Let us look for the Lord’s voice that comes to us with love and peace and joy and kindness and meekness and goodness and patience and forgiveness and healing and deliverance. If these things are not found in any situation we should turn to the Lord for our answer. Neglect not the spirit and your flesh will be dealt with accordingly.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.” (Psalm 103:1-6) The objective is to succeed in that which God set you out to become and you will: He promises! Therefore, let not your failures or the failures of others toward you set you back by causing you to pay attention to them long enough to be distracted. Once you recognize the flesh in yourself or another, “choose you this day whom you shall serve!…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
We have the refreshment of the Lord to revive us. We don’t need to take a break from everything and everyone to find a solution. The Lord is our reward. The trouble is when we expect others to live up to their spirituality before we ignore their flesh. Let’s face it. The Lord is absolutely active in our lives and it is he who puts all things in our way. “Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; and said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men…and now I say to you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” (Acts 5:34-35, 38-39) Consider the Lord. You can’t fight him. Lean not on your own understanding. Stop asking so many “why’s”. Start learning the value and deliverance of letting go and letting God without fear. I know that it is not easy to walk about ignoring the flesh. I know that it sounds unrealistic but that’s the point. The flesh is unrealistic. It’s not the true thing. We look on the things that are not as though they were. Because the spirit is far more true than the flesh. ‘Fall afresh on me. Convince me of my excitement in you even though I don’t feel it or believe it, O Lord’. We must learn to separate ourselves from our flesh while we’re living in it. Ignoring it is the way. But while ignoring it, we must also look to the Lord at the same time. He has taken care of the sin. Let us be grateful and joyful. Pretend and you’ll become.
This world needs more confident people in the Lord, not more legalists who are too busy trying not to do ‘bad things’. We need more people who keep pressing on toward the mark, toward the high calling, ever ready to ignore the serpent’s lies and declare, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” Psalms 121:1. Ignore the earthly pull of the flesh and all its negative suggestions and look up to the freedom and deliverance of the Lord. All things pale and are petty next to him. The flesh is a powerful being, able to deceive and to capture into bondage but the joy of the Lord is our strength and it comes in fullness; nothing can withstand it.
MARTHA WORKING-MARY SITTING [Romeo Corsini] 1