Comparison to Contentment
“Just look at her over there. Sitting there, listening, not doing one thing to help me. I am over here cooking, serving food, checking on guests and she is just enjoying the company. I am always the one serving. It must be easy for her getting to enjoy life while I work to keep everything held together.” This is how the story goes time and time again. “I cook, clean, serve and serve, I mean we are called to be servant right, and that is exactly what I do, serve. And she gets all the attention for doing nothing for sitting and being social. This is so backwards. I should be the one being noticed because I am the one serving, not her. I am the one with all the hospitality, I mean, I invited the special guest here. She is not showing any hospitality she is just being lazy and being rewarded for it. I have had it. I have had enough. I am going to say something, yes, I am going to say something, I am going to set this straight.” The exaggerated thoughts of comparison swell in her mind and finally she musters up the courage to say something……
“Um excuse me! Does it not concern you at all that my sister is just sitting here and not helping me do one thing? She has left me to serve alone. I am doing everything all by myself. I am serving, and she is sitting. Tell her to help me!”
Ok, so I may have taken the story of Martha serving Jesus and Mary sitting at His feet and added a modern day dramatic flair. But can you imagine all the thoughts that Martha must have been thinking as she prepared and served her guest and her sister just sat and listened to Jesus. The story only takes up a few lines in the Bible, but it runs much deeper than a few verses. (You can read the unedited story in Luke 10: 38-42)
Martha had invited the guest of not just the year but of all eternity into her home. Martha rightfully wanted to make sure her guests were served appropriately. And in fact, there is nothing wrong with her desire to be hospitable towards her guests. Her guests had been traveling, I am sure they were hungry, thirsty, and needed to rest their feet. Serving her guests was not where Martha went wrong, in fact serving them was needed and good. But things went wrong when she started comparing herself to her sister. Now the Scripture does not go into detail of how long Martha was “distracted with much serving” as Jesus eloquently states to Martha. But as a fellow woman, it could have been one minute or an hour, and her mind could have run wild with stories and comparison all the same.
Scripture specifically uses the word “much” before serving. It was Martha’s job to serve her guest appropriately, she was the hostess, she had invited them there. But I believe if she had just served her guest and sat down all would have been fine. Instead I can’t help but think that Martha moved from “warm hostess” to “distracted” because she started comparing. I am sure Martha’s intentions to warmly welcome and serve her guests were genuine and pure at the beginning. But just imagine her preparing for her guests when out of the corner of her eye she sees her sister just sitting there with Jesus and thought, “what is she doing just sitting there while I am over here serving?”
I believe this is where comparison snuck in and caused Martha to become distracted in her mind, which in turn lead her to be distracted in her serving. Comparison caused Martha to shift from a hospitable heart to a hostile hostess. Comparison caused Martha’s servanthood to turn into slavery. You see, that is what comparison does, it manipulates your mind into turning the very thing you were created to do into the thing you despise. Martha should have served her guest graciously and then sat and enjoyed the evening. Instead she served her guest with a distracted mind, causing her to serve too much. She became distracted by the very thing she wanted to do for Jesus because of comparison.
Comparison is sneaky and addictive. You can find yourself comparing your life to someone else’s with a hundred different thoughts before you ever even realize what you are doing. Comparison is sneaky. Once you realize what you are doing you can’t seem to make yourself stop. Comparison is addictive. And before you know it you are distracted like Martha. Martha was distracted with much serving. She was distracted with comparison, which led her to too much of a good thing. There is the saying “comparison is the thief of all joy” and you can see that on full display with Martha. The joy of serving her Savior was stolen because she compared herself to her very own sister. What has comparison distracted you with or from? What joy has comparison tried to steal from you?
Are you a stay at home mom comparing to working moms?
Are you a working mom comparing to stay at home moms?
Are you single comparing your life someone who is married?
Are you married comparing your life to your single friends?
Are you wishing you were on a vacation like your friends on Instagram?
Are you comparing your home to Pinterest?
Are you comparing your success to someone else's?
Are you comparing your situation to someone else's season?
Are you comparing your own season of preparation to your coming season of promise?
What are you measuring this present season of life against? Are you measuring your season of life against someone else’s or are you measuring your season of life against what God has for you right now?
We must learn to be content in whatever season God has us in. Sure, some seasons are long, dry, and difficult. But when we learn to be content we can have joy and strength because Christ enables us to do all things. But if we dare let comparison sneak its way in, it will steal our joy and we will find ourselves struggling even in the best of seasons. Martha struggled even when Jesus was right there with her because she let comparison find a way into her mind. You can be in the best of seasons and still lose your joy because of comparison. But if we just LEARN to be content, we can do all things through Christ Jesus!
Philippians 4:12-13 "..... In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret to contentment- both to be filled and to go hungry, to have abundance and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."