Posted by: TLC Fellowship | December 18, 2012

Religion vs. Relationship

By Pastor Deborah Reed, Pastor of Life Development Ministries at TLC Fellowship

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 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!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 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 10:38-42

“Just try harder.  Give your all. Write it down, make a list, set a schedule, analyze it, monitor it, and fix it.”  These are conversations I’ve had in my head over and over again. They usually come when I’m determined to get rid of a character flaw or bad habit.  I’ve declared I would:

  • be on time, stop procrastinating and get organized
  • eat better, exercise, watch my weight
  • watch less TV and read more
  • be a better steward of my gifts, talents and money

My list is endless.  It’s only when I am totally exhausted and frustrated that I realize I’ve been operating under the Martha syndrome. Perhaps, Mary’s families of origin were Pharisees. They were the religious zealots who persecuted everybody who didn’t adhere to the letter of the Old Testament laws. Jesus called them white-washed bones. They looked white and clean on the outside.  But they were dead and decayed.  Like them, I could make anything a religious obsession.   I’d be so focused with doing everything right I’d lose sight of doing the right thing. Mary knew time with Jesus was precious. She was not about to sacrifice it to unnecessary chores.

This Christmas season is especially a challenge for me. I want all the lights hung inside and out. I want the tree and decorations to be perfect.  It has to be something the grandkids will fondly remember.  But, this year is different!  It doesn’t upset me that 18 month old–Josiah, grabs shiny balls off the tree.  Of course they shatter when he tries to bounce them off the ceramic floor. He’s a precious, innocent child and Nana has more bulbs.  I may exchange the glass for plastic.  But, no fuss from me this time.   I remember how fast his mom grew up and left home.  I’m not about to waste time on things that can be replaced for things that can’t.  It’s not just the small children.  We should look at all relationships as fleeting moments.  Jesus admonished Martha and nurtured Mary. Martha wanted the Lord to be impressed by her sacrifice for Him.  Mary was more caught up in Jesus’ sacrifice for her.

Sometimes all the tasks are to avoid relationships and emotions.  I couldn’t stop eating poorly until I realized food was my drug to medicate an emotional wound I had to address.  Many times flaws are symptoms of deeper issues. I watched TV because it is numbing.  Conversely, reading my bible is illuminating. It brought to light issues from which I had to recover. Like Mary, to be better, we need to be with Jesus. Thank God we have The Comforter, the Holy Spirit inside of us.

Prayer: “Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for always being there when we turn to you. Thank you for your patience when we try everything else before we turn to you. May I get better at the relationship I have with You, myself and others. Amen.”


  1. It’s so easy to lose our focus on what’s really important in life–especially this time of year with the commercial trappings that have overtaken the true meaning of the season. This really helps to put things into perspective!. Thanks for a great refocusing!

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