Martha, Martha, Martha
By Lincee Ray
There is a story in the Bible that showcases the attributes of two sisters. It consists of only five verses, yet so much is packed into this particular moment in history. In fact, these verses are so notorious that their content still makes some women fired up today. It’s the story of Martha and Mary.
Have you ever been asked, “Are you a Martha or a Mary?”
Ugh. If you’re a Martha, this question burns you up. Can I get an “Amen?”
Let me give you a little bit of context. In Luke chapter 10, Martha opens her home to her friend Jesus. She and Mary were like sisters to Him. While Martha is in the kitchen slaving away, Mary is at Jesus’ feet listening to Him teach. We pick up the story in verse 40:
“She came to Him and asked, ‘Lord don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’”
Clearly Martha is freaked out. Wouldn’t you be? Jesus is in her home! When my Mama and I throw a baby shower, we do at least one dry run. I can’t imagine the pressure of hosting this particular dinner party. What if someone serves Him hummus on a chipped plate? What if the chicken isn’t cooked all the way through? WHAT IF SHE GIVES THE MESSIAH FOOD POISONING?
I get it. What I find interesting is that she doesn’t pull Mary aside to start chopping vegetables. Instead she goes straight to Jesus. Maybe Martha is less concerned with getting help and more concerned with receiving validation for all of the stuff she’s doing. She beseeches Jesus, thinking perhaps HE would notice her hard work. Maybe HE would make Mary get up and back in the kitchen.
There’s probably a little bit of pride mixed in too. Martha could have easily asked him to “fish and loaves” the dinner so she could sit at His feet too. But she doesn’t. She becomes frustrated and asks a pretty deep question if you dig past the surface.
Don’t you care?
Don't you care that I’m not at Your feet? Am I even on Your mind as I bustle about the kitchen? I’m not like Mary. I’ll never be like her. Is that a concern? Don’t you care?
Jesus could have easily said, “Do I care? Well, I’m going to the cross to die for your sins pretty soon, so yeah. I care.” But of course, Jesus has an equally deep, yet gracious answer for His friend:
“You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus never said that any of the things Martha was doing was bad, or wrong. In fact, someone had to serve the food, didn’t they? Martha’s work was needed. He never rebukes her! He understood her role. He understands her character. He never says, “BE MORE LIKE MARY.”
But He was concerned about Martha’s heart. She couldn’t see past her to-do list to enjoy that the Savior of the world was sitting in her living room. He’s telling her, “Your schedule is not as important as Me.” Jesus missed Martha. He just wanted time with her. Because He cares.
I think Martha gets a bad rap. And it’s not just because I’m a Martha. Mary is able to sit at the feet of Jesus because Martha was serving. Moreover, Mary was able to sit at the feet of Jesus because Martha invited Him to her home in the first place.
I think that the lesson here is simple:
Even if you’re a Mary, your life is going to be filled with Martha moments. We live in a Martha world. Do you get so wrapped up in serving others that you lose sight on the reason you serve in the first place? Do you get so caught up in serving in Jesus’ name that you forget to mention Jesus’ name at all?
Be Mary first and Martha second. Worship like Mary and work like Martha. Ask the Lord for Mary’s heart, but Martha’s hands.
Lincee began blogging accidentally when she wrote a recap for the beloved show everyone loves to hate — The Bachelor. What began as a place for closeted fans to commune and discuss the wonder that is Our Host Chris Harrison slowly morphed into a place where she share stories about everyday life. Hear more from Lincee at ihategreenbeans.com.