Wisdom and Priorities

I’ve been reading through the Psalms during my morning devotional time. Here’s the phrase that stuck out for me in Psalm 90:

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” Psalm 90:12

Sometimes we forget that we have a limited amount of time here on earth. The same Psalm tells us:

“The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty…”Psalm 90:10

It’s easy to get caught up in the demands of daily life — our jobs, our children, our household tasks. We neglect the eternal for the temporal. I’m as guilty of this as you are. Even though I’m retired, I load myself up with chores that are probably unimportant in the long run. Does it really matter if I wash the kitchen floor every week? Do I need to peruse the grocery store ads over and over to find the best price on every single item I need this week? Couldn’t that load of laundry wait an extra day? Must the bulletin board at church be updated TODAY? These things are not unimportant, but they are also not time sensitive and crucial. If we’re wise we’ll put first things first.

A friend recently told me that this was the message Jesus was trying to get across to Martha, in the familiar story we find in Luke, chapter 10. She was angry because her sister Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus, listening to his teaching, instead of helping with the housework. But couldn’t both sisters have done this, and then worked together to finish the chores? Yes, the guests needed to be served, but the words of Christ were “the good portion.” Luke 10:42b

So let’s all be wise. Do what needs to be done, but remember our time is short. Don’t neglect the best things — prayer, worship, study and service to others –these should be given the highest priority in our lives.

For more about wisdom see these posts:

Wisdom = Peace

Wisdom and Purity of Heart

Wisdom and Understanding

A Beautiful Thing

There is lots of action in Chapter 14 of the book of Mark. Jesus celebrates the Passover with his disciples, He prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, He is arrested, brought before the Council and denied by Peter. However, what strikes me in my meditative reading is a small incident that comes before all the “big” things. He is anointed with nard by a woman at the house of Simon the leper. In the gospel of John, this woman is identified as Mary of Bethany. Some of those present grumbled at the waste of this costly ointment, but Jesus replied:

“She has done a beautiful thing to me.” Mark 14:6

I’ve been pondering what made this gift so special and here’s what I came up with:

  1. It was sacrificial. The nard was not only expensive, it’s been suggested that it might have been part of Mary’s dowry.
  2. It was personal. Mary did not send a servant, but anointed Jesus herself. In the account in John, she wiped his feet with her hair.
  3. It was compassionate. She seems to realize that Jesus will not always be with them. As someone who was a friend and “sat at His feet” listening, perhaps she actually heard and understood that His death was coming, because Jesus said “she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.”

Now I’m questioning myself — what beautiful thing have I done for Jesus? When have I been sacrificial and compassionate? When have I taken the time to give what’s needed in a loving and personal way? This is not easy to consider. Although I do many things “for Jesus” they don’t always measure up to Mary’s example. I often do my “things” in a way that’s rushed and distracted. I’ve got a list of “church chores” that need to be checked off my list. I guess that’s the “Martha” side of me. This phrase encourages me to slow down, listen carefully and be a “Mary.” I, too, want to offer a beautiful thing.

Mary and Martha

For more posts of the study of Mark see:

The Lord Has Need of It

Be At Peace With One Another

Rest a While