You’ve met those folks, they just “go along to get along” as my mawmaw would say. They take on the opinions of those around them and whatever the crowd does, they do. I guess that’s fine if you’re in a good crowd, but if not, well…
The truth is many times in life we are so averse to conflict that we will say “yes” when we should be saying “no.” But that requires a strength of character that must be shaped, developed, and purposefully embraced. Strength of character doesn’t happen overnight and it never happens if we don’t regard “first principles,” set our priorities, based on foundational truths. This is the only way when life presses us to say “yes” to that which will denigrate our lives that we will have the strength of will to say “no.”
But where do you learn these principles? How does one develop priorities that are based on eternal truths rather than what might make me happy or boost my ego or enhance my prestige in the moment? The only Place to get these principles, to develop that kind of strength of character is at the feet of the Master.
Look at our Gospel Lesson today in Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28: At that time, Jesus entered a village; and a woman called Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve you alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
A familiar story: Mary and Martha are both going good things. Martha is being the consummate hostess, but Mary, her sister, has made another choice, and that bothers Martha a lot. You see, there will always be opportunities to serve, but the opportunities to sit at the Master’s Feet and be shaped and formed by His eternal Wisdom are precious and must find first place in my choices! And Mary does that. She makes a choice based on Eternal Principles and says “no” to a lesser good so she can say “yes” to a greater one!
And notice how the Lord responds to the lady in the crowd who praises the woman who nursed the Lord: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.!” The blessing of making priorities based on eternal truths and strength of character doesn’t flow from genetics but from loving God’s Word first, above all things!
Today, what do your priorities say about your character? Are you able to say “no” when the shortcuts in life are offered to you? Can you say “no” to a lesser good so you can say “yes” to the greater? Do you even know how to discern between these choices? The way to that strong character that leaves a path for future generations to follow lies in prioritizing your love of Truth over your desires for either comfort or temporary success. When given the choices in your life, will your decisions reveal a person who chooses Christ first or not?
P.S. Have you visited faithencouraged.org lately? our recent homilies are always available to you there; the daily devotionals, as well as upcoming speaking engagements are recent trips. You can also stay on top of the growth of the ministry and find out how you can be a part of spreading the word about living a purposeful Orthodox life. Make FaithEncouraged.org a daily stop in your daily practice of this beautiful faith. And a blessed “OXI” Day to you!