Please read Matthew 1 & 2, as well as, Luke 1 & 2, for a Scriptural understanding of this amazing woman!
As evangelicals, I think we sometimes tend to shy away from discussing Mary. For fear of being accused of an incorrect theology, we avoid any conversation about her whatsoever. To this, I say we do her a great disservice. There is much we can learn from our Savior’s mother.
The question I have asked myself over and again is this: what was it God the Father saw in this young woman to cause him to choose her over any other young girl? In an attempt to find an answer, I have scoured the Scriptures that talk of her, and have come up with this one thought: Mary exhibited a healthy heart. I don’t know too many who give us a straight forward glimpse of what this looks like, yet I believe Mary does. I know what unhealthy looks like. That would be mine. My heart is often me-focused. I react to people and life circumstances foolishly. My pride often steps in the way. My discontent with what I have, and my desire to gain more, crowds out gratitude and generosity. Not true with Mary. As I’ve reflected on her heart, I’ve listed eight traits that God reveals to us about her character from the Word. That’s too many to list in a one-page devotional, so we’ll place her under our microscope this week and next. Then we’ll take a break over the Christmas holiday.
Pursues God – I know this, because I believe Mary full understood what it meant to live a “with-God” life. The Lord had specifically said in reference to the coming Messiah that a virgin would give birth to a son, and he would be called “Immanuel” – which means God with us (Matt 1:23). Mary was raised on passages like Josh 1:9, “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go;” or Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear for I am with you...,” and Is 43:1-2, “Fear not...when you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” So, when the angel reminded her to “Fear not,” Mary was reminded that the God she pursued was always with her. Like her ancestor David, before her, Mary had inherited a heart that chased after God.
(is) Pure – Several times in Luke’s account, as well as in the Isaiah account, it is made clear that Mary was a virgin. The Greek word (parthenos) not only means one who had not had sexual intercourse, but it meant one who was chaste, pure in thought and life. Proverbs 4:23-27 admonishes, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (meaning, it affects everything you do!). Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly in front of you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”
(gives God) Permission as she develops Perspective – While Mary, like any of us, was at first troubled at the words of the angel, and questioned how what he told about her could even be, she processed it all rather quickly – this “thing” that happened to her was what it was...and God would be with her! In spite of what she knew people might say, and do, her response still amazes me, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Even Elizabeth’s response to Mary upon seeing her, spoke of the submissive heart Mary acquired when she said, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” Still not convinced? Mary’s response to Elizabeth was nothing short of amazing, “My soul boasts in the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.”
(is) Peaceful – While we don’t read this specifically in the Scriptures, we can know this to be true about Mary. The fact that Mary lived a With-God life, pursuing him with her entire being, granting him permission to “do as he would” with her life, rejoicing in his will, always results in the “peace of God which passes all understanding.”
As we enter into the Christmas season, may we learn to gain a Mary-heart...a healthy heart that seeks fervently, gives freely, suffers patiently, and submits reverently.