“Why” is more important than “how” in everything we do, especially concerning our service to the Father, and it’s when our motives are right in our serving Him that pleases Him the most. Regardless of the fact that our will is never to do anything with the wrong motive, we need to realize that there will be interruptions of the “old man” that will at times produce undesired results. The wrongs and sins in our lives are not to disappoint us, it being expected in an unavoidable degree; for He already knows out heart is ever for Him (Phl 2:13), and we should already know that He no longer regards us after the old man (Rom 8:9). Thus “all things” (Rom 8:28) are but ongoing lessons to us of which He desires us to know, understand and allow His precious Spirit to apply in our lives to be completely God-dependent.
The way in which Martha served was not acceptable to the Lord (Luk 10: 41, 42). The snare with zealous, but unbroken hearts is to do the right thing in a wrong way; that is, in a human way. It is not enough to know the right thing, but I must know the right way of doing it. The latter is not easily learned; the former is the fruit of light; the latter is never acquired but as there is practical grace, charity—the activity of the Lord Jesus Life in me by the Holly Spirit (Col 3:4).
Martha desired to minister to Christ, but instead of first waiting upon Him, and becoming imbued with His mind and tastes, she essays to serve at her own dictation. This was her mistake. When I consult the Lord Jesus’ tastes instead of my own, I am not the less ready to spend and be spent for Him; but I serve in quite a different way.
It never occurs to me that what I am doing is a burden, when I work in answer to His mind; on the contrary, I have the assured sense of pleasing Him, and this is the greatest gratification to my love for Him. I feel I cannot do enough. Instead of being wearied by my doings for Him, I feel they are quite inadequate to express the delight which it gives me to do anything which would meet with His approbation. When I have the sense of pleasing Him, my only thought is to do more; and my study, to follow on in the line which He likes.
Like a fruit tree, I bud and blossom, and bring forth fruit, encouraged at every step by the consciousness that I am answering to His mind, who planted me and gave me grace to bring forth fruit to His pleasure. It is a well-known fact, that the riches of the soil is never drawn upon, never exhausted until the fruit ripens. Green vegetables do not exhaust the ground.
There can be a great deal of green service, which is not a strain nor a tax on the servant; but when there is real fruit, there is sure to be both. I call it green service when a person spends what he cannot otherwise use; but I call it ripe fruit when one, in order to please the Lord in serving His people, curtails his own liberty, and deprives himself of many comforts which might be called needful. In fulfilling this service there is self-denial, but it is not felt to be a burden, like Martha’s (v 41), because of the delight of the heart in meeting the Master’s wishes.
The Christian is led of the Spirit to aspire to his proper service and calling; and the more genuinely he accepts this leading, and pursues it in faith—that is, in dependence upon the Father, “which teaches my hands to war, and my fingers to fight” (Psa 144:1)—the more surely and efficiently will he reach, and retain, the post assigned to him. The tree that has the best fruit has always the best and most healthy leaves. It is the small things which really constitute our testimony.
—J B Stoney (1814-1897)
MJS devotional for Sept. 16:
"It is basically the belief of the truth; it is not belief of the fruits. The Holy Spirit cannot present to me the fruit He has produced in me, as the object of my faith. He speaks to me of my faults, of my sins, but not of the good works that may be in me. He produces them in me, but He hides them from me; for if we think of them, it is but a more subtle self-righteousness. It is like the manna which, being kept, produced worms. All is spoilt—it is no more faith in action. The Holy Spirit must always present to me the Lord Jesus Christ that I may grow and have peace." -J.N.D.