Grace Is Unfair
Last week, in my blog, The Gift of Laughter, I referenced the story of Mary and Martha—and I received a comment on this story that got me to thinking about why this story was included in scripture. (In John 21: 25, it says: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”). God inspired what scripture would be written. (2 Timothy 3:16) I think God had a specific reason to include this story.
It reminded me, of another story in scripture that is referred to as the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32. In The Prodigal son story you have two siblings, one, (the older sibling) stays and helps his Father, and one, (the younger brother), took his inheritance, blew it on partying, than was poor and starving, so he comes crawling back to his Dad, and his Dad welcomes him profusely—throws him a big party, hugs and kisses him, and the older brother is thinking, “Wait a minute—I stayed, have worked faithfully for my Dad, and this loser gets the party—How is that fair?” This is my paraphrase—for the exact translation, check out Luke 15.
In the case of Mary and Martha, (this story is found in Luke 10: 38-42), Jesus and his band of 12 disciples come to their home, (probably unexpectedly), but Martha knows her role—she know she is in charge of feeding 13 extra people, (and maybe more), as Jesus traveled with quite a group at times. So, Martha starts bustling—it is all hands-on deck to feed the guests. Middle Eastern/Asian culture was and is very hospitable, and guests must be treated to the best. For example: just a week ago, my daughter and I went to the home of some friends, who are from Bangladesh, to borrow some items for a Geography Fair. They were doing us a favor by loaning us their things—yet they treated us so beautifully, served us some refreshments, and talked so kindly to us.
Martha, (having been trained to serve food to guests), starts making food for Jesus and his disciples, and she expects her sister Mary to help. Mary does not help. She sits down and listens to Jesus. How aggravating for Martha!! In fact, Martha is so aggravated that she appeals to Jesus, as she is certain Jesus will agree with her—and then He does not! Wow!!
Which brings me the title of this blog – Grace is Unfair!!
I think all these stories were about Grace. Grace is a gift that we receive that we don’t earn, and we don’t deserve. When people receive a gift for free, those who thought they worked to earn that gift, and so deserve that gift are upset. Jesus’ people thought they had to work to earn God’s acceptance and approval.
Jesus was trying to teach His people, about GRACE.
Jesus’ people had laws and rules—given to them by God—and they thought that if they kept these laws, they were acceptable to God and approved of by God— Jesus is trying to teach them a new lesson. Jesus is trying to tell them and us, “You can’t do enough to be acceptable to Me—for I am Holy. You may think that you can be approved– by keeping all these laws, but you are not learning the lesson I wanted you to learn. I want you to learn these laws are impossible for you human beings to keep perfectly. In fact– you keep breaking my laws and presenting sacrifices in order to be forgiven. Now—I am going to be the Lamb of God—that takes away the sins of the world—the one and final sacrifice for your forgiveness. This is GRACE, it is a gift from God, not because of your works, so that no one can come to Me and boast— (because I did this—or that)—I deserve a relationship with You. A relationship with Me is a gift. (Ephesians 2:8,9)
Jesus is trying to teach us about GRACE, by using these stories. Martha is used as an example of how we can all try to do what we think Jesus expects us to do, but it may not be what He wants us to do at all. He wants us to rest in Him, enjoy our relationship with Him. (Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you REST. Matthew 11:28) Mary is an example of resting in Jesus, enjoying our relationship with Jesus. This is the gift Jesus wants to give each of us. Often, resting in Jesus, will mean, finding out what Jesus wants us to do, before we do it. (Not making assumptions about what His expectations really are.) For my story about how my husband and I did this—see: “The Gift of Hindsight.”)
In the Prodigal Son—The older son is used as an example of the person who is faithful, loyal, working for God/Dad, (the Dad is used as an example of who God is, in this story), and older brother thinks he has ‘earned’ his relationship with his Dad and ‘earned’ a reward. The Dad tells him—”you did not have to work to ‘earn’ a relationship with me—you ‘are’ my son. That is your position. All these years, we have had fellowship with one another, working with each other, being with each other. That has been our reward, that has been our gift. Your brother was lost, he was not apart of our fellowship. In fact, he was dead, and today, he has come back to life!! This is worth celebrating!! Celebrate this with me, my beloved son!!”—this is my paraphrase. J Actually, the Dad in the story said, “Son, you have always been with me and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!”
So what about all these laws God has given us—in Galatians 5:18,22-23, it says— “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law……The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, against these things there is no law.” In other words, if God’s Spirit is leading you and producing these fruits in you—you are not under the law, because you will be living out all the things the law tried to help you do. Jesus says all the law can be summed up in, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, strength and soul and Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
In other words—it’s all about Love—love for God, love for others. So simple, so hard, Grace is so needed!! And that’s Jesus’s message— “You all need Grace. You all need Me. You all need a Savior. You all need The Spirit to lead and guide you. I know what you need. Just come to Me, and I will give you what you need. You don’t have to do this on your own!!
If that isn’t something to Be Encouraged About—I don’t know what is!!
So Be Encouraged!!
4 thoughts on “Grace Is Unfair”
So beautifully written….you explain things so well. I understand the story spiritually, but logically, it does’not make sense. If no one had prepared the meal, both Mary and Martha would have been scolded. For it was there duty as women to do. If Martha had sat down at Jesus’s feet and not said anything, they both would have been in trouble…..but I get it sister…..and I love you!
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I think, if Martha had said, I would like to sit and listen to you Jesus, like Mary is–Jesus would have said, “sit down Martha”, I can make the meal when it is time, and Jesus–as the God/Man would have provided for their needs.(the whole multiplying loaves and fishes thing) I think it would have been a great teaching point for Jesus to show He wants to provide for our needs–the whole Matthew 6 principle–that God knows our needs, and will meet our needs–He wants us to focus and seek after Him first. Thank you so much for your valuable feedback!! I love it!!
This idea of grace being unfair also brings to my mind the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16) where workers are all paid the same amount of money whether they worked all day or just part of the day. The owner of the vineyard replies to the complaints of the ones who worked all day, “Are you envious because I am generous?” God certainly is generous to reveal Himself to any of us! Thanks for these great reminders that we don’t earn our salvation. Love you friend! 🙂 Gail
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I love this story too–as it reveals God’s character–His generous gracious heart!! Thanks for the reminder!!