You, Me and Martha
Remember who Christ is. Before Luke 10 He has already healed many people, cast out demons, calmed storms, raised the dead and fed thousands. He is the God who provided manna for the millions of Israelites in the Exodus. He commanded the ravens to feed Elijah. Christ owns it all. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe. Martha was not needed.
Earlier in Luke 8v1-3 Christ is being ministered to and provided for by a number of women. He does not need these women. However, He chooses to condescend to be served and provided for. He chooses to rely on these women for sustenance. He blessed them deeply by allowing them to be a blessing. They were not needed.
At first this can be a little difficult to embrace. We like to feel needed. Yet, it is true, regardless of how we feel about it. We are not needed.
I would like to show you a handful of things God does not need from us.
- Our Sacrifices - As New Testament Christians we understand that God did not need the sacrifices of the Old Testament. Psalm 50 is a scathing rebuke upon the nation of Israel for their lawless lives. The Israelites had begun to believe that they could sin and just appease God through the sacrificial system. God corrects this twisted view. In verse 10-13 God explains that He is the Creator and Owner of everything in creation. He did not need their sacrifices.
- Our Praise - Psalm 19 tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God. Isaiah 6 paints a picture of the whole angelic host worshiping the King. Within the Trinity there is the eternal desire to glorify and magnify the others. God does not need the praise of men.
- Our Service - Paul, in Athens, explains to his audience that God is the source and sustainer of life (Acts 17v23-25). He explains that God is not worshipped or served by the hands of man. He does not need a temple, since He existed long before anyone came around to make Him one. Since He is the Creator of man, He needs nothing from man.
- Our Obedience - In Job 22v2 and 35v6-7 it is made clear that God is not affected by the obedience or disobedience of Job. What this means is that God still remains God whether we obey Him or not. Man, sinning here on earth, cannot impact the transcendent God. He does not need our obedience.
As CS Lewis puts it in the Problem of Pain:
“God has no needs…He can give good, but cannot need or get it. In that sense, His love is, as it were, bottomlessly selfless by very definition; it has everything to give, and nothing to receive”.
This is wonderful. Because God needs nothing, He loves to freely give. If God did have needs, we could never meet them because of our sinfulness, weakness and limitedness. If God played by the “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” concept then we would never receive because we could never give God what He needs. The Mosaic Covenant was evidence of that. God’s lack of need means He can pour His love upon us freely and generously. In other words, He can give us grace.
So does this mean we no longer serve, praise or obey God? Not at all. It does mean, however, that our serving, praising and obedience must be done with the proper understanding and perspective.
David and the Temple
The scene is recorded for us in 1 Chronicles 29. A temple is being prepared in Jerusalem (not that God needs a temple remember). David has gathered the leaders of the tribes of Israel. He begins by describing what He has given towards the temple project and it is a lot (v2-5). He then asks the leaders what they are going to give (v5). They also give a lot (v6-8). This is quite the sum, this is costly, this is sacrificial.
The people rejoiced (v9) and David begins to pray. He is full of praise and thanks to God. Pay close attention to what he says:
All that is in heaven and in earth is yours (v11)
Riches and honour come from you (v12)
What’s he saying? He is saying that God owns it all. That He doesn’t need anything from David and his people. Everything is already His. He is the Eternal One. His is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, the majesty. He is the One who gives riches and honour, power and might, greatness and strength. He continues:
All things come from you (v14)
All this abundance…is from your hand and is all your own (v16)
Notice the beginning of verse 14; “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this?”. Do you see it? David knows that God already owns everything. He knows that everything He has is from God. He knows that God needs nothing from Him. Yet, and here is the important part, David gets to give. David and the people are responding to the glory and grace of God by joyfully and willingly giving back to Him what is already His.
Does God need this offering? No. Does God delight in it? Yes. God does take delight in His people. He delights in their prayers (Proverbs 15v8). He delights in His people being fair and just (Proverbs 11v1). He delights in His people’s obedience (Proverbs 11v20). He delights in His people speaking the truth (Proverbs 12v22). He delights in His people’s giving (Philippians 4v18). He delights in their keeping of His commands (1 John3v22, Colossians 1v10, Hebrews 13v21).
You are not needed. You are loved.
We give back to God as an expression of our love and gratitude for all He has done for us and this is what He delights in. Whatever we offer the perfect, eternal God will always fall far short of who He is, however, He delights to receive from hearts that are filled with love and gratitude. This is what it is all about.
Martha’s preparation wasn’t needed, she was loved. Martha learned to serve Christ as a response to His power and compassion. Mary’s oil wasn’t needed, she was loved. Mary sacrificed to Christ as a response to all He had given her. David’s giving wasn’t needed, he was loved. David gave to God as a response to who God is and all that God had done for him. They were responding to the fact that they were loved. This is what God delights in.
Your service, sacrifice, giving, obedience and praise to Christ must be as a response to His grace and glory in your life. Only then will your service for Christ be a joyful and fruitful thing.
Bearing Fruit Series:
Up the Apples and Pears (Christian Fruit, article 1)
Pulling a Martha 1 (Busy but Fruitless, article 2)
Pulling a Martha 2 (Responding to Christ's Love, article 3)
Not Needed, Loved (A True Perspective of Service, article 4)
Wild Grapes and Empty Fig Trees (What our Flesh Produces, article 5)
Plastic Fruit and Bushy Branches (Legalism, Hypocrisy, Pride and Judgement, article 6)
The New and True Vine (Jesus, the only God-pleasing, fruitful human, article 7)
My Hope is Built on Nothingness (How to Abide 1, article 8)
Don't Stop Believing (How to Abide 2, article 9)