Spiritual maturity, that is, growing in our faith and the ways of God, is less concerned about what we can “get away with,” what’s a sin, or what’s not. Spiritual maturity is more about asking the question: Does it please the heart of God, and in this time, way, and place?
Even a good thing can end up not being the heart of God for that moment and situation if we’re leading and not allowing Him to lead; focusing on our own desires rather than what God wants. Spiritual maturity asks, what’s important to God right now in and for this situation?
It’s natural, and even human, for us to react to the circumstances we face day in and day out because life demands a response. But who or what should we be responding to? One of the many remarkable things about Jesus’ life on Earth is that He didn’t live just reacting to circumstances around Him. He lived in response to the Father, first. The order and priority are important here. Because if we’re not careful, we’ll live reactively to everything that comes our way instead of living by being led by Him (His will and His ways).
The story of Mary and Martha paints a beautiful picture of this idea in Luke 10.40-42 NLT.
“But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing (for Jesus). She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to You that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.””
Martha wasn’t wrong to want to get dinner ready to serve Jesus at their home. After all, the dinner ain’t prepare itself. This is a good and hospital act. However, it seems that Jesus was after something more in this moment than just dinner. He was after their attention and heart.
This is a picture of what it looks like to be doing a good thing and yet miss the heart of God for that moment and situation. What’s the difference? The difference is being led by God instead of leading ourselves (by our own desires and priorities).
Just because something is good or we have the ability to do it, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s what God wants for that situation and time. Like Mary and Martha here, discerning the will of God for the moment and situation first begins with a willing heart to receive Him, listening, and then responding to Him first rather than only reacting to what we’re facing.
Like Martha, we won’t always get it right. But if we keep the main thing, the main thing, we’ll get it right more often than not – especially with God’s help leading us. As we get into the busy new year of goals, routines, and things to get done, may pleasing the heart of God in every moment and situation be our standard and compass today.