One of our lessons was on Mary and Martha in Luke 10. I soooo relate to Martha. I can be busy with the best of them. Clean the church, teach Jr. Church, work in nursery, participate in music ministry, and why isn’t she pulling her weight, doesn’t he see all that I do, etc…
I do believe Martha was blessed with the gift of hospitality. Can you imagine at least 12 people showing up at your door? No advanced warning, no text, no cell phone call to announce their coming? And then you feed them? Without a cake mix, a microwave, or frozen anything? And yet no where does the Bible say Martha griped that these men showed up or that she was burdened with feeding them. She DID, however, complain that Mary was not helping.
Here’s the scenario as it plays in my head: The men come in, everyone is cordial, and Martha sets to work. Mary, however, sits at the feet of Jesus. I think as time goes on Martha probably sighs heavily from time to time, bangs a pot around or slams a door trying to get Mary’s attention. When that doesn’t get her attention, Martha turns to good old-fashioned whining. Why do I see that in my head? Because I’m sure I’ve done that myself, once or twice. (HA!)
The Bible says Martha was “cumbered about much serving.” (Luke 10:40) She was distracted with all that she had to do. Matthew Henry says, “Whatever cares the providence of God casts upon us, we must not be cumbered with them, nor be disquieted and perplexed by them. Care is good and duty; cumber is sin and folly.” See, service is good. Service is necessary. (Can you imagine coming to church where no one had cleaned the toilets for months? Or maybe trying to put your children in the nursery and no one is there, or the nursery lady is grumpy?) But it should not distract us from the bigger picture-developing a personal relationship with Christ. Then Martha went to Jesus and told him to make Mary work (Luke 10:40). Basically, “YOU tell her to help me, she won’t listen to me! I’m doing this all by myself and all she is doing is sitting there! Don’t you see how hard I’m working?!” (Sound familiar? Have you ever complained about how much YOU are doing? Or asking for recognition for all the work YOU have done?) I love Christ’s response, “Martha, Martha,…” (Luke 10:41) Again, I picture this in my head. Christ looks at her, almost with pity, and shakes his head from side to side. “…thou art careful and troubled about many things.” She was doing too much. She was doing more than was necessary and it was distracting her from the most important thing, the “one thing is needful.” (verse 42) “To give up herself to the guidance of Christ, and receive the law from His mouth.” (Matthew Henry) Jesus called that the “good part.” Mary chose to be with Christ, a better way of honoring or pleasing Him. She chose that personal relationship instead of the busyness of service.
Again, service is needful. The work of the church could not get done without it. The Bible calls it “your work and labour of love.” (Hebrews 6:10) But it is easy to get so wrapped up in our ministries, that we forget to have that personal relationship with Christ. Good works should be a by-product of a Christ-centered life, they do not produce a Christ-centered life. So, are you a Mary or Martha?