Empowering Spiritual Stagnation

Martha_and_Mary_by_He_Qi_ChinaI often tell people who are rushing around, super busy, and usually super stressed to stop and do nothing. I tell them to make a “to-not-to-do” list. I usually get weird looks. I usually get long pauses and then the questions, “You mean, a to do list, right?” Nope. A to-not-to-do list. A list of things that you just don’t need to do. And stop. Do nothing for 5 minutes. It’s a lot harder than you think.

Yet, when many people hear me say to stop and do nothing, they take it as not doing anything. And that becomes the problem. There’s a big difference between not doing nothing and not doing anything.

In our go go go world, we feel that we have to go everywhere, do everything, and if we’re not doing a thing, then we’re lazy. The problem is, is when we’re running all over the place we’re a whole bunch of stuff which winds up leading to us doing a whole bunch of spiritual nothing.

In the Gospel of Luke there is the wonderful scene of Mary and Martha hosting Jesus in their home. The son of God, the wise rabbi, the Messiah, is in their home. And Martha is doing what all of us would be doing–she’s taking care of things. She cooking, she preparing food, she’s trying to be a good hostess. And then there’s her sister Mary. Mary is with the rest of the disciples sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to him teach.

Somethin’ wrong here. Right?

Martha gets peeved and actually tells Jesus what to do. She tells Jesus to tell her sister Mary to get off her duff and do something.

Jesus responds:

“Martha, Martha…you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed–or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

Martha is so busy she’s stagnate.

You ever come across stagnate water? Maybe it’s a large puddle after a rainstorm from a week ago, or a birdbath in need of refilling. Maybe it’s an old pond that no longer works as a pond. They all have the same thing in common–stagnation. The water isn’t going anywhere. It’s not moving, it’s not flowing. When this happens, it becomes gross. Mildew, mold, and other fungi grow around the banks. Mosquitoes lay eggs in the water. It’s not fit to drink.

This is what happens with us when we’re so busy we don’t have time to stop and sit at Jesus’ feet. Mary is stopped. She is focused on Jesus. She is focused on not doing anything but listening to her rabbi, to her teacher. Martha is so busy, she even tries telling Jesus what to do.

Which are you? Mary or Martha? Which do you see as being the one doing the right thing? Usually when I ask that question, people point to Martha. That’s what the world around us says we need to be like. That’s what we probably would be doing if Jesus came to stay at our house–clean out the house with the whole Flight of the Bumble Bee song going as a soundtrack. Cleaning cobwebs out of the most oddest corners that no one will even notice. That’s what we’d be doing. That’s what so many people see themselves doing. They wonder why Mary isn’t doing the same thing.

Jesus says that Mary has chosen what is better. Martha is become stagnate, Mary is flowing. Martha is not growing in her busyness trying to serve Jesus, Mary is growing by doing nothing but listening to Jesus. Martha is stagnate, Mary isn’t.

Many of us are Marthas. Many of us are so busy we don’t stop and focus on not being stagnate. Many of us are just stagnate and don’t realize it because we’re so busy doing so much stuff and so rushed and stressed.


Do. Nothing.

Don’t not do anything though.

It doesn’t matter how busy you think you are. Take time. Sit at Jesus feet. Learn from Him. You’ll be amazed at what can happen in the rest of your day. Take time to sit and do nothing but listen. And when you do, you’ll have much more time to keep on keeping on.

Where do you need to grow spiritually? Where do you need to stop and do nothing and sit at the feet of Jesus? Do that. Stop. Do nothing. But don’t not do anything.

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