Smorgasbords have popped into my head recently. We all know smorgasbords are buffets offering a variety of foods. Salads are first and there are numerous things to choose from. Then comes the entrees, meats of different varieties, potatoes, vegetables, and then our favorite – desserts. Oh, and don’t forget the many types of bread, biscuits, and rolls we can choose. We usually pay one price and then go back as often as we like.
A new term has popped into my head, “smorgasbord people”. Now when you hear that term people are often referring to people who pick and choose what they want to believe in when it comes to the bible. They pick what they want to hear and digest it. What they don’t like from the bible they often dismiss it and go on by. That’s the way we do smorgasbords. We get all the things we like and those things we don’t like we walk by.
Some people are picky eaters and it’s easy for them to walk by the foods they don’t like and the foods they like, they get all they can. There are some people who like and will eat everything. They have a hard time choosing what they will eat. These folks want it all. They can’t resist.
This brings me to a more personal problem. When going to a smorgasbord, I usually chow down on the food I like. It’s easy for me to pass on the food that I am not crazy about. I pick and choose when it comes to the food I want to eat and digest. Until of course, it comes to the loaves of bread or the desserts. Then watch out. I want it all.
One of the problems for me going to a smorgasbord is I eat until I am miserable. I don’t know when to stop. That is the problem with a lot of people going to smorgasbords. They eat until their miserable.
Thinking about my faith, I realize I am a smorgasbord person. Unfortunately, I am also one of those people who like it all. I want it all and I want to do it all. I can’t pick and choose when it comes to acting out my faith. Let me explain.
There are so many opportunities when you become a Christian. You can choose to do ministry, you can choose to do mission work, you can choose to serve in the community or in church or a number of other places needing help. There are smorgasbords of opportunities for where and how you can serve. Now, this is not a problem if you are able to be a picky (in a good sense) Christian. If you are lucky enough to be able to choose what you want to do then you are good at smorgasbords, but if you are like me, you want to do it all. First, I must say, I don’t want to do it all because I think I am the only one capable of doing it all or doing it right. I believe others have much more talent than I do and can do so many things better than I can. That’s not my problem. My problem is everything looks inviting. Everything looks so enjoyable. (Again it’s not because I like the honor or want to get all the glory) I just like being in service and doing God’s work. Now there is nothing wrong with doing God’s work and being in service. But, remember when I said we can eat so much we become stuffed and feel miserable? That’s the way it can be with us and being in service to God. We have to choose balance. We have to be able to pick those things God wants us to do and to move on. We have to move past those things that look enticing to us and follow God’s leading. We can’t have it all and we can’t do it all.
I was recently reminded of the Mary and Martha story.
“She [Martha] had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.
But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said,
‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’
And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and
troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary
has chosen that good part, which will not be taken from her’ ” (Luke 10:39-42).
We always look down on Martha for not wanting to be with Christ and for being a busybody. I see it differently. She was like me. Being in service was enticing, exciting and she basically enjoyed it. I don’t think (at least for me) it’s not so much about not being with Christ as it is being in service to Christ. We just forget that it’s just as important to be with Christ as it is to be in service with Christ. He does want us to be in service with him, but there are times we just need to stop and be with Him. I don’t think Christ wanted Martha to stop helping others, he just wanted time with her.
When we are so busy doing for Christ that we can’t be with him, it also takes a toll on our health; both mentally and physically. I often tell people, if you aren’t physically or mentally well then you are no good to God or anyone else. You have to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. That may mean as you look at the smorgasbord of opportunities to serve you may need to pass on some of them. I have to remember Moses did not go out and look for the burning bush. God brought it to him. If God has work for us he will bring it to us. We do not need to go out and look for work.
The other problem I have, and I will be the first to admit this, is I am a people pleaser. I do not want to disappoint people. I love people. I love making people happy. So, you ask me to do something and because I don’t want to disappoint you I will go out of my way to do it for you. I have to be reminded often of this scripture, Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” If all we do is seek the approval of our friends and when we become so consumed with seeking approval we cannot always please God. There are times people will put undue pressure or burdens on us. These folks have figured out if they come to you first, you will always say yes and then their job is done. Instead of looking for the person Christ wants in that position. It is best to always pray to see if God is leading you in that particular direction. If it isn’t, don’t be afraid to say no. You may disappoint them, but God is never disappointed in us.
Smorgasbords are great if you know how to handle them. Smorgasbords are great if you have the ability to walk away before you feel over stuffed. Smorgasbords are not so good if you can’t say no. God has given us a smorgasbord way for us to serve. It’s not for us to do it all instead it’s opportunities to seek his will for your life. He gives it to us because we are all different and he knows we need to serve in different ways. If you give him a chance he will tell you what you are to do and he will lead you away from the things you shouldn’t be doing.
Being Martha isn’t bad. Just like her, we need balance in our lives. We should follow the example of Moses and not be out looking for our burning bush, but let it come to us. Finally, we need to remember it’s not about pleasing people; it’s about pleasing God and following the path he has for us.
As a side note, someone asked me recently to take on something else. I said yes without hesitation. After a friend sought me out and talked to me, I listened to what God was telling me. I called my friend and politely told her I was not able to do the thing she asked me to do. I may be a slow learner, but I might just be getting it.
How are you doing? What kind of smorgasbord eater are you? Are you a Martha, a Moses? Are you a people pleaser? Can you say no when God wants you to? These are all questions we have to answer and deal with. I pray for you as you discern what God is telling you.
Dear God: we’ve had this discussion so many times. I realize now why you have given us so many ways for us to serve. It’s not for us to do it all, but to be able to discern what it is you want us to do and then go after that one thing. While we digest one thing and we serve one-way others have different opportunities to serve in other ways. Help me as I deal with being a Martha. Let me be more like a Moses. Remind me I can’t please everyone all the time and while I can’t win the approval of everyone I must seek to be in one accord with you. Amen