Sitting at the Master's Feet

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Ex. 13:17 π Psa. 91:1 π Mt. 24:10 π Mt. 24:12 π Lk. 10:39-42 π Jn. 10:27 π Jn. 10:27-29 π Jn. 14:23 π Jn. 16:13 π Jn. 17:21; 2nd π Acts 20:30 π Rom. 13:10 π 2 Cor. 6:14 π 2 Cor. 6:17 π Eph. 2:10 π Eph. 4:11-13 π Eph. 4:14 π Eph. 5:21 π Eph. 6:12 π 2 Ths. 2:3 π 2 Tim. 3:5 π 2 Tim. 4:3-4 π Heb. 12:15-17 π 2 Pet. 3:14 π 2 Pet. 3:17-18 π 1 Jn. 2:27 π Rev. 2:6 π Rev. 2:15 π Rev. 17:5

[Martha] had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, "Lord, don't You care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." ( Lk. 10:39-42; top )

There are many layers to this passage that we need to explore in this day of apostasy. Many have noted well that Martha was distracted by the preparations that "had to be made." And this is an old warning that needs to be sounded regularly. We must always be on guard against the tyranny of "the work" vs. obedience to the Lord. Would Jesus and the disciples have died of starvation if Martha had failed to provide a meal? No, they would have just been hungry. The really horrible thing that needed to be avoided at all costs was that Martha would have looked like a bad hostess or even a poor woman. It really wasn't Jesus' needs that were on the line - it really was how Martha thought others would perceive her. It was not the work the Lord knew needed done, it was the work that Martha thought needed done. What a difference this can be.

At the risk of adding too much into the story, let us conjecture what might have happened if Martha, instead of deciding out of her own reasoning that a meal needed prepared right now (all the physical concerns which do have some value), she too had also decided that simply sitting at Jesus' feet (the spiritual concern whereby we learn what God considers of highest value) was the most and only important thing to do at the moment. How do we know that after speaking for a while, Jesus might not have said to Martha and Mary, "Hey, we've talked long enough. Got anything to eat?" He might have also said to His disciples, "Anybody that wants to eat, get out there and help them!" Or might He not have said to Martha, "Got a loaf of bread here? Any fish? Bring them to Me." Might not all have been filled with that small amount of food as surely as the five and four thousand were? But Martha's perception of what needed done in her own eyes cut off any possibility that the Lord might do something for her and her guests. This is precisely why Paul writes, "For what partnership have righteousness [what is right in God's eyes] and lawlessness [what is right in one's own eyes]?" ( 2 Cor. 6:14; top ) The source whereby we draw our motivation to do a particular work makes all the difference.

Let us return to what is recorded. Though Martha was striving to make dinner, Mary was quietly learning the ways of God by sitting at the feet of Jesus. This is the only place we are required to sit and learn. "My sheep hear My voice," Jesus said. ( Jn. 10:27 ) And John wrote, "As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not [constantly] need anyone to [constantly] teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit - just as it has taught you, remain in Him." ( 1 Jn. 2:27 NIV, words in brackets from Wuest's translation) If there be any true work of teachers in the body of Christ, they are only to help us reach maturity in Christ. ( Eph. 4:11-13 ) Maturity in Christ is best described as the ability to hear Christ for ourselves, express our love for Him through our obedience ( Jn. 14:23 ) and no longer be tossed around by the deceptions of men who seek followers after themselves. ( Eph. 4:14 , Acts 20:30; top )

Today's teachers make you sit at their feet. They stand between you and Jesus and tell you, "Once you've heard from me, you'll be better equipped to go sit at Jesus' feet." But this is a lie. A true, more-mature teacher in Christ simply tells the other, "Go hear Jesus for yourself. Then come back to me and we'll talk about what you've heard. Perhaps I can confirm or clarify anything you don't understand and help you sort through the deceptions the enemy will try to add to what the Lord tells you." That is the true teaching gifting of Christ.

But now multiplied billions of dollars have been spent around the world to construct "Christian" lecture halls ("church" "sanctuaries") where passive listeners can sit at the feet of their favorite teachers and have their ears soothed, scratched and stimulated! ( 2 Tim. 4:3-4; top ) Or those who have fled the "church" are snared by some house "church" Nicolaitan "teacher" who wants you to sit at his feet and follow after him and his ways. And all this does - whether in the house "church" or in the mega-"church" or in any sort of "church" in between - is reinforces the "pastor"-teacher's supposed superiority, fulfilling all his childish and internal vows to make something of himself, and the laity's perceived and self-imposed inferiority in the things of God.

There is no basis to believe in this supposed inferiority of the "common herd." Because of his simple existence as a human being, it is entirely and inescapably impossible that the "pastor" could ever leave the "common herd." Yet his exalted position over the crowd subliminally and deceptively tells him (and them) that he is somehow above the "common herd." This devaluing of the common people is the lie that keeps us all from walking in the spiritual strength of all being in one accord. In short, it is the demonic scheme designed to keep the Lord's prayer that we all be one ( Jn. 17:21; top ) from coming to be.

The "pastor" must learn that there is no such thing as "super-sheep" and he must resume his place and status and existence among the people as a mere human being - the unleavening of the man will be a much deeper and harder process than most will be able to endure. But we must finally recognize that supposedly superior specimens of humanity rising up to direct traffic among the "lower strata" of humanity is the source of all the wars and conflicts among us and the source of most of the human misery that exists now. The Creator God, through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ and the outpouring of His Spirit, has come to live within each and every one of us who will believe and obey - and it is the demonic's agenda and strategy to stop, distort or defile His presence in us in any way it can.

There is no lie more damaging to the real work of God in our life than to think that we need some man to stand between us and God and tell us what God is saying. In The Revelation, Jesus tells us that He hates the deeds and practices of the Nicolaitans ( Rev. 2:6 , 15 ) - the act of one man rising up to stand over the people and dictate to them how they should live and be. There simply is no "delegated authority" (the modern term for Nicolaitanism) anywhere in the New Testament by which some men are given God's authority to tell their brothers and sisters in Christ how they must live and be and do. It is the role of the Spirit of God within us to lead us into all truth - both that which we know and that which we do ( Jn. 16:13 ) - and to cause us to fulfill the law of love by which we accomplish all the good works which God foreordained for us to do. ( Rom. 13:10 , Eph. 2:10; top )

It is Nicolaitanism (one man over the people) that has provided the place where we can choose which man we prefer in our own eyes (lawlessness) - and it is lawlessness (doing what is right in our own eyes, as Martha did in the passage we are examining) that causes the love (that which flows spontaneously from the Spirit of God) to then grow cold in our lives. ( Mt. 24:12 ) Rather than serve and care for her sister's deepest needs, Martha was willing to rob Mary of her spiritual time with Christ so that Martha could preserve her fašade of respectability and poise in front of so many guests. And this is the spiraling, domino effect of the apostasy, the great falling away from the faith that comes before the return of Christ ( 2 Ths. 2:3 , Mt. 24:10; top ), that thing most men commonly call "church."

All the "churched" people know is sitting at the feet of men. They know nothing of sitting at the feet of Christ and they know nothing of standing beside their fellow brother in truth. They don't know how to submit to the truth their brother speaks when it contradicts their own preferred opinions. They think that any submission to a brother, as Paul said was required of all of us ( Eph. 5:21 ), means that they go sit at their brother's feet and learn everything from him! This is how well the "church," the apostasy, like Egypt did to Israel, has trained us to have a slave mentality rather than a warrior's mentality. (see Ex. 13:17; top ) It is virtually impossible for two brothers to disagree about anything touching the way of following Christ without having it turn into a testosterone contest of who will end up on top! Brothers, this is only evidence of how deeply the carnal training of the "church" dwells inside of us!

Jesus told Mary that He would not deprive her of sitting at her Master's feet. This is true of all those who sit at His feet. Yes, He will give us tasks to do that would keep us from physically sitting at His feet. But because He has made His dwelling place, His home, within us, even as we do the physical tasks before us - of whatever nature those might actually be - our spiritually sitting quietly at His feet will not, indeed cannot, be taken away from us. The only way we get away from that spiritual position, condition and attitude of quietly sitting at His feet is when we stand up, walk away and leave. It is through deception that we are lured to walk away from this quiet place of rest, strength and safety whereby we can know what is on the Lord's heart and mind.

Perhaps the most beneficial picture we could gain about our spirit is that it is like a rubber band. When it is compressed into a ball, all rolled up and compressed, we are being oppressed and closed in by schemes and activities of the demonic. When we are excited and elated and over-extended with joy and emotional exuberance, our spirit is being pulled out of its normal position of rest. If we hold our spirit rigid and unbendable (a picture of inflexible legalism) or let it go too soft and pliable (a picture of indiscriminate tolerance) or simply leave it out to rot in the elements (a picture of over-exposure to sinful ways), again we have been lured away from a place of quiet rest at the feet of the risen King and Savior, Christ Jesus. We must learn what our spirits normally "feel" like in the context of the whole of our being and then we must beware of any other condition. We must learn first to maintain our spiritual balance and then to walk with the Lord wherever He leads and then to wrestle and overcome all the forces of Hell itself ( Eph. 6:12; top ) - all as we calmly and quietly sit at and never leave His feet!

Jesus promised, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand." ( Jn. 10:27-29 ) We need not fear anyone or anything so long as we remain quietly seated at His feet in the depths of our heart and being. As was said so long ago, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." ( Psa. 91:1; top )

There is nothing that can cause us to come out of that quiet listening place except our own will. Peter wrote, "Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." ( 2 Pet. 3:17-18 ) And the writer of Hebrews sounded a similar warning, "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears." ( Heb. 12:15-17 ; top )

The choice is ours - we can truly come to the real ekklesia and assembly of the One and Only Firstborn Son of God. Or we can stay in the "church" that springs from the mother of prostitutes and abominations. ( Rev. 17:5 ) But we cannot stay in both. If we are going to come out and be separate ( 2 Cor. 6:17 ), we must truly come out and be of a different spirit. We must take on the warrior spirit that overcomes our tendency to be slaves of sin, self and Satan. We must forsake the mere form of godliness ( 2 Tim. 3:5 ) and walk in spotless and blameless righteousness and holiness. ( 2 Pet. 3:14 ) And then we must be and will be one with one another - then and only then, when as one we are sitting quietly and peacefully with one another all at the feet of Jesus, will the world know that Christ truly came from the Father. ( Jn. 17:21; top )

Let he who has ears hear.


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