We get Two-in-One in this weeks’ chapter on Twelve Extraordinary Women.
It’s one story that most of us are familiar with. A classic.
Mary and Martha: Working And Worshiping
Martha is busy in the kitchen making a meal to serve Jesus, while her sister Mary is sitting at His feet, listening to Him.
And Martha, it seems is progressively irritated at her sister, and eventually sets down her knife (I’m so hoping she set it down first!), walks into the other room and rebukes Jesus for not telling Mary to help her.
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.” Luke 10:40
Have you ever been working hard while someone was watching you with not an ounce of remorse or sense of obligation to help you? Or in the other room enjoying something you’d like to be doing yourself?
It’s not hard to put myself in Martha’s position. John MacArthur sizes up the situation this way, “Martha was resentful of Mary’s devotion.”
For the first time, I do not agree with his assessment of the situation. And I’m guessing because, well, he’s a man. I think that Martha was resentful of Mary’s FREEDOM to not feel OBLIGATED to serve with her.
As I looked more intently at this story, I wonder if Martha typically got an ego-charge out of serving, and Mary enjoyed being served by her (presumably older) sister. And perhaps this is why Mary was so at rest not helping Martha. Maybe.
But this day, as things were going down, Martha wanted to be where “the real action” was and she was not. (I think she felt like she was being left out—not—that I’ve ever felt that way or anything. 😉 )
And so really, what Martha was doing was a noble thing; to make dinner for her honored guest. But it was Martha’s focus (on herself) and her ‘self-pitying, martyr-mentality thoughts’ (unbelief) that made her the object of Jesus’ gentle rebuke in answer to her emotional one. “Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but Mary has chosen what is better.” (Luke 10:40-42)
Not the sitting and listening vs whipping up a meal, but the heart of earning vs the heart of trust.
Martha could have said to Jesus, “Lord, I so love making food and want you to eat well, would you come into the kitchen and talk so that I can be a part of you and you can be a part of me?”
Perhaps then Mary would have taken up a knife, and cut the veggies or a spoon and stirred the soup while they all conversed together.
“The moment our works become more important to us than our worship, we have turned the true spiritual priorities on their heads . . . We must never think more highly of our works for Christ than we do of His works on our behalf.” John MacArthur
It was Martha’s heart that was ‘worried and upset’ and it overflowed from her lips.
What a great reminder as we approach the Christmas season with all of it’s extra tasks. We can find joy in our Christmas tasks if we remember why we are doing them, and Who we are doing them for.
We are under no obligation, but free to choose to say ‘no’. No to the task or no to the wrong attitude. 🙂
The Christmas cards can be skipped for this year. There is likely no one who will suffer from not receiving a lavish hand-made gift in our exchanges. The cookies that don’t get baked-well, less calories, right? And the decorating? For me, that would be the last one to cut out, but maybe for you, you can minimize the load by letting go of higher expectations to have a more peace-filled Christmas.
So when you have a day when you feel overwhelmed by the task at hand and that you are unseen and alone, remember this encouragement: Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
We can serve and be extremely busy with a still heart. It just takes a little self heart-exam from time to time. May you know His peace this Christmas season!
My daughter Kayla (just happened to) publish a post about Mary and Martha today too. She has free printable verses over there if you want to go read her words and check out The Creative Jayne blog.