English Standard Version (ESV)
Martha and Mary38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: Mary and Martha
Accompanying Matt Chandler sermon: The Next 30 Years
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: The Christian's Priority
To a certain extent, I think Martha gets a bit of a bad rap sometimes. Of course, I may think that because I'm more of a Martha personality, so maybe I'm a bit biased.
Martha is not a bad woman. It is evident from this and other passages of scripture, that Martha loves Jesus and, indeed, has great faith in Him.
But she has a bit of a bad day.
And even there, I can feel for her. I mean, we all get caught up in a bit of a cleaning and cooking frenzy when we have guests over, don't we? And that's just normal guests. Can you imagine if you knew Jesus was coming down?! My blood pressure would likely increase, and my crabbiness level would likely go up too, especially if I saw someone shirking their duties while I got all the work done. Oh, I can so identify with Martha.
And the thing is - what she was doing was not wrong. Hospitality is a good thing - in fact, we're instructed to be hospitable in the Bible. Working hard is a good thing - another instruction for us in the Bible. But her attitude is way off. She even bosses Jesus around!
And how often does Jesus come into your house? Even for His friends, this was not a super regular occurrence, what with Jesus' travelling ministry. When given the rare opportunity to be in the presence of Jesus - what should our priority be?
Being. Being in His presence. Worshiping. Learning. Listening. Enjoying His presence.
What is our priority?
Now, obviously there's a balance here.
If all you ever do is read and study the Word to the neglect of your family and your responsibilities - well, that's not honouring to God either. That's not the point. We're not supposed to use "being Mary" as an excuse to be lazy.
But we live in a Martha world, and we are much more likely to get sidetracked by good things that we neglect the best thing.
The key is priority.
I like how Driscoll put it....
And so the key is Mary first, Martha second.
Worship, then work. Worship God before you work so that you could worship God in your work. And do the work that God has called you to do, not chasing your potential, but pursuing your calling. Not volunteering yourself as the savior of the world to plug every hole and meet every need. That job’s already taken. And instead to spend time with the savior of the world, asking him what portion of the mission he’s entrusted to your service. So we want Mary’s heart and we want Martha’s hands.
Being involved in ministry is good. Having your kids involved in sports and volunteering for various committees are all not bad things. But when our commitments and even our service to God leaves us no room for spending time with Him, then we are busier than He ever intended for us to be.
Spending time with God - alone and in fellowship with other believers - is not optional. It must be a priority. Only when we make that a priority will everything else fall into place.
It's hard, in our culture, to purposefully make that a priority. To cut back on things that other people think we should be doing (or that we think we should be doing). We need to choose what's best over what's good.
Mary first, Martha second.
Serve with Martha's hands and with Mary's heart.
Worship first so we can continue to worship God through our work.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 11:1-2
The really tricky part is having a Mary heart WHILE serving like Martha. It isn't so much that what Martha was doing was wrong ~ there were people in her house (probably a rather large company) ~ and they did need to be served. It was her attitude that was the problem.
Excellent post. I too sometimes feel like poor Martha gets a bit of a bad rap here, but it definitely is about attitude, and that is where I fail most often. Not that I'm doing something wrong, but that I'm doing it with the wrong attitude.
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