I love this quote by Lloyd-Jones that I just read today:
“The error of justification by works is in trusting to the discipline of your own soul to save your soul; but the opposite to trusting your works is not to do nothing, it is to do everything but not put your trust in any of it. It is not the works that are wrong, it is the faith in your works. But what a subtle danger this is … The opposite to a false trust in works is not indolence, lack of discipline and doing nothing, it is to be diligent and more diligent, to be zealous, and to add to your faith.”D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression as quoted in Free to be Holy by Jerry Wragg & Paul Shirley p.6, Emphasis mine
Similarly Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s devotion from today touches this topic of serving in the lives of Mary and Martha. Spurgeon says we need the grace to be both at the same time, Martha and Mary. Martha is not chided for her serving and even her much serving can never be enough for her Lord. No, the issue is that of being distracted by this serving. And don’t people use serving to distract others from the lack of godliness today? Indeed they do.
No matter, what Martha needed was not to stop serving, but to also to add to that communion with Christ. Or better put, she needed to put communion with Christ first, and add to that her serving. Peter writes in 2 Peter 1 to “Add to your faith…” So it is biblical to do so. It is what we are saved to do. We are saved to bring glory to God by our obedience to God.
The great commission does not say to go and teach people what he taught us, but to teach people to obey all of his commandments! (see Matthew 28:18–20)
Avoid the error of thinking that your contemplation over the great truth of justification by faith will automatically make you holy. It won’t. Spiritual growth takes great striving. It takes you doing everything, but not trusting in it. Your actions are required, but your trust is in the Lord, not the actions. You do all you can to grow because you are commanded to do so, but your faith is not in the doing, but in the delight of being God’s child and wanting to bring him honor.
It’s really the Christian’s job right now. Be obedient to the Lord. Strive to be holy. As the author of the book I quoted from above summarizes, to be gospel-centered if it means anything, it ultimately means being conformed to the image of Christ (Free To Be Holy p.9). It means “obeying and teaching others to obey all that Jesus commanded” (Ibid).
We don’t trust in what we are doing, but we do trust what we are doing is right and it is for His glory. One last quote I think may be of help:
“if we truly believe the gospel, our submission to Christ will not be for the purpose of adding anything to His cross, but rather to magnify His glory through the display of His power. To live out the gospel is to cherish and appropriate the power of the gospel so that Jesus Christ is fully formed in us” (Ibid, p.7 emphasis mine).