Thursday, July 17, 2008

More on Mary & Martha

Hey Girls. I've been trying to get this posted since this morning, I guess better late than never! I loved reading everyone’s responses to the scenario of Jesus coming to dinner!! Some of your answers made me laugh out loud and some were very insightful too.

Most women quickly admit to being a Martha. But for years I identified more with Mary. Not because I thought I was super-spiritual, but because I knew I was not very domestic. While my home is (mostly) clean, it’s certainly not spotless. And while it’s (mostly) tidy, it’s certainly not clutter-free. There is always a load of laundry, either clean or dirty, in a basket somewhere waiting for me to manage it. There is typically a pile of mail at the end of the kitchen counter waiting for me to sort it. Dust perpetually awaits swiping on my mantle. And there’s almost always a stack of books and Bibles at the end of every table – and that’s because I’d rather sit and read or write about God than cook or clean. I enjoy that stuff more than the domestic stuff, and I’m better at it.

Also, I’m a big-picture kind of a girl more than a details kind of girl. Some people make task lists, and with joy check off each task as they complete them. I make lists, and then lose them … or abandon them because I don’t like to feel controlled by a check-list of tasks (even if I’m the one who made it)! Only when I’m super busy and super stressed do I resort to keeping a check-list, and actually obey it.

Jesus tells Martha in Luke 10 that she is distracted, worried, and upset over all the details. Being a big-picture gal, I couldn’t imagine Jesus saying that to me. I figured He’d be more likely to have to say, “Uh, Rachel, I need a fork to eat with. And do you have any napkins? Also, should I just set these books off the kitchen table onto the floor, or is there somewhere you want me to put them?” But when I considered the scenario I outlined for you in the last post, I realized my first impulse would be to launch into Martha-mode and worry about the food and the house.

Being domestically-challenged, I would quickly come to the end of myself there. So out of necessity I’d switch to more of a Mary mode and break out my Bible and pray. But probably not with entirely right motives. (If I couldn’t please/impress Jesus with my home or my meal, I would do so with my knowledge of Him.) Hopefully, however, while reading the Bible, the Holy Spirit would do that thing that He is so good at doing and hold a mirror up for me to see myself. And hopefully I would realign my motives and focus and become truly ready to welcome my Lord. Then I would do my happy-dance until He arrived!

Besides, if He can turn water into wine and multiply fishes and loaves – I can ask Jesus to make the dinner!

Considering this scenario showed me that my first impulse would be very Martha-like: to focus on things and tasks more than on relationships and people. I would drive myself and my family crazy trying to get us ready for Jesus’ visit. My perfectionist tendencies would rear their ugly head – somewhat in the name of my love for Jesus, and somewhat in the name of my desire to feel I produced a lovely evening. I think Jesus might smile over my frantic cooking and cleaning before He arrived in an effort to serve and bless Him. But I suspect He’d frown at me for driving everyone crazy because I wanted to be all successful and “perfect.”

This exercise also made me realize that even when I do Mary-like behaviors, I need to check my motives for doing so. Is it just to stay within my comfort-zone? Is it to avoid doing something else that needs doing that I don’t want to do? Is it just because I know it’s the right thing to do and I want to be a good Bible-study girl? Or is it out a desire to truly worship Him?

One difference in my scenario and the story in the Bible is that I told you a friend called you to say she was bringing Jesus over tonight. In the Bible it says that Martha herself welcomed Jesus to stay with her (Luke 10:38). She invited Him. It was evidently her idea – not Jesus’, not Lazarus’ and not Mary’s. Martha wanted Him there … she just got distracted with the details and the tasks involved in making dinner once He was there.

Ah, so I not only need to watch my motives, but also my follow-through on what begins as a pure motive.

At times I have viewed Jesus’ comments to Martha that night as a harsh rebuke. I have cringed at the thought of Jesus having to correct me like that – in front of everyone no less. But in reality, He was also letting her off the hook she had created for herself with her self-imposed goal to produce a terrific meal and be a “perfect” hostess. Isn’t it just like Jesus to remove our need to perform so we can enjoy His presence, grace and love? And He let everyone in the room know as well that Martha was free to stop cooking and come sit down with the rest of them.

Perhaps because I never identified much with Martha, I’ve never read any books about this passage of scripture. Anybody who has want to share some insights they learned – and tell us which book its from? Or any one have additional comments on this section of our reading?


  1. AnonymousJuly 17, 2008

    thanks for your comments on martha and mary one of my favorite passages it seems to me the there were things both in martha and mary that were needed mary was enjoying just being with Jesus martha wanted everything just right perhaps to honor him but her expectations were high and demanding. i read a book called having a mary heart in a martha world great book on this passage it talks about attitudes in service and also that our service should come out of our love for the Lord the book gives side by side characteristics of both martha and mary i really learned alot and i am realizing sometimes we just have to let things go to be with Him

  2. After I made my comments on the last one aout freaking out and tryig to get everything just so for Jesus, I thought about it and realized... He already knows what my house looks like and how I cook. So I would still cook, but I think I would want to spend time just being with Him. Again as the song states "I can only imagine"
    Thanks Rachel,

  3. Love that, Rachel....He takes away the need for us to perform so we can just enjoy His presence,grace and love!

    God's Word is indeed alive. And I think every time we read about Mary and Martha, there is more to glean and learn.

    Bless you!
    Sharon :)

  4. Your comments are always very thought provoking - Thanks.

    I like the little comment in my Life Application Bible - On this occasion they were both serving Him but Martha thought Mary's style of serving was inferior to hers. She didn't realize that in her desire to serve, she was actually neglecting her guest. Are you so busy doing things for Jesus that you're not spending any time with him? Don't let your service become self-serving.

    I also realize that even when I am in worship mode I can be just as distracted as Martha was. I may not be physically doing things but my mind is whirling with things that I need to do, want to do, etc.

  5. I loved your comments Rachel, and I learn daily from the other ladies' comments. This morning doing my daily bible study, this hit home again, on worshiping God. Do I do it from my heart to praise God or is it a habit, or to please others? The commentary said sometimes we think we have to have a big production or great presentation to show that we're "worshipping" God, and all He wants is for us to come as we are.
    Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  6. Oh Rachel,

    I am so like you in that I would rather SOOO rather being focusing on a bible study, reading or reaching out to others than doing MY domestic duties!!

    I too have read the book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha world and it was great!

    All to often I get focused on one task and forget the other. It's so hard to find the balance, especially when we love to read and write! But, I have also found that sometimes I can be a Martha in certian area's of service, I just want to "get the job done", when in fact I'm missing out on the blessing because I'm not willing to sit and listen.

    Great thoughts! Love it all!

    ps-Can you IMAGINE what kinda meal Jesus could cook up!!!! YUMMY!! =)

  7. AnonymousJuly 18, 2008

    Thank you for a most enjoyable, thought-provoking discussion! Your comments and insights are wonderful!

  8. It's really hard to imagine what I would do if Jesus came to my house. Someone mentioned the song "I Can Only Imagine". If anyone would like to see it I've put it on my blog. Be sure to turn your speakers on.

  9. ****Prayer Requests Please,****

    Ladies it's been a hard hard day for me, Please help me pray for family, they are dear to my heart, but the girl that was my maid of honor died this afternoon, her liver had shut down, she had a transplant, she got a bad infection and the doctors do not know what happened, she swelled up and blood was coming from her mouth and nose and then she died. Her mother is devastated, and so many of us, PRAY for her family please.
    Also I had to put my baby girl to sleep today, This has been a hard year for me, I have lost so many things dear to my heart, my brother, my best friend, and my pup.
    But please pray for this family.
    She was 32 yrs old, she had 2 beautiful children 4 & 5.
    God Bless you all

  10. Sharon,

    I'm praying for you & and your friend's family.

    In Christ,

    Ashley Marie

  11. Sharon, i am praying for your family and your friend's family. i'm so sorry to hear that you've experienced so much heartache. take care and GOD bless. in CHRIST, caryn

    i think i'd try to be a mary or a martha and fail at both. then i'd have to realize that JESUS loves me and has given me numerous chances to grow. i would end up sitting at HIS feet in desperation because i'd know that i'd fail at either task and i'd need to fall at HIS feet. i am thankful that HE loves all the marys and marthas no matter where their best intentions lie.

  12. Good afternoon Ladies,

    Sharon, I have lifted you and your friend & family up in prayer, and will continue to do so. I sent you a email also.

    It just dawned on me that we are all comparing ourselves to Martha and Mary and how we would react if we were them, instead of visualizing how we would react as ourselves. God made us all as individuals, each with our own beauty and uniqueness ~ no two exactly alike ~ just like snowflakes. So really, I don't think that He would want us to emulate anyone, but rather just be our own true selves and offer him the best that we have to offer with all sincerity, humbleness, and devotion. We don't have to shine in any area, only in HIS glorious and magnificent light. After all, HE is the author and the finisher, we are HIS creation and he loves us despite all of our inadequacies, bumps, bruises, scars, transgressions, and ignorance. So, bask in HIS light, and "shine" on, girls!!!

    God bless all of you. We are united through and in HIM.

    Your Sister in Christ,
    Karyl ~ Bonners Ferry, ID


  13. AnonymousJuly 21, 2008

    Sharon, I'm sorry for all that is happening around you. May God's peace be with you, and with the family of the friend who died. I'm sure you know Sharon, God has not left you. He is there right beside you seeing you through all your heartaches. He also loves those little ones who have lost their mom. May God surround them with His loving care and peace.

    I've been out for a while but I'm back! I've just finished catching up to the studies, and am looking forward to more.

    I enjoyed all the comments about Mary & Martha. Karyl (riverview), I like yours especially. Isn't it wonderful to know that we can just rest in God as who we are? That we cast aside our idols, and humble ourselves before our beloved, our husband and our king and commune with Him. We can serve Him, and be served by Him (as that's what He always did on earth). And then just spend time with Him. I have a feeling that I'd end up not even being interested in eating if He was there. What a wonderful thought. One day we will all (believers) have that chance, to speak face to face with Him. It's great to know that it will actually come to pass. Sigh!

    Connie, Canada

  14. AnonymousJuly 22, 2008

    I use to be more a total Martha but lately after reading this passage again I'm not sure that I can say that I am either one. I would love to be Mary but I just don't seem to have the desire that I need to be like Mary.

  15. Ladies,

    I cannot believe I am asking for this, but I am requesting another prayer request.
    Today I had a knock at my door, it was my neighbor from across the street, she was crying, said that a girl named Sandra died from a car accident, her son also was in the car he died but they revived him, he is 16 and was driving. There family is devastated. My husband went to school with her and they were best friends.

    Not even 30 minutes later our phone rings, and Brad's (my husband) mom called that his Cousin James had a major heartattack and is in intensive care.

    I am ready for 2008 to be gone.

    Please help us pray for these families. And for this cycle around us to be gone.
    God Bless

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Sharon,

    Remember what I told you about the full armor of God. The closer we get to our Lord, the more the enemy comes against us. So
    you and Brad keep suiting each other up and be ready for those arrows out of left field.

    I am so extremely sorry for all of your grieve. Of course, I will add Sandra and James to my prayer list, as well as their families. You, Brad, & Juliet's family, as you know, are already a constant.

    I don't know what else to say, other than to reiterate what I said to you in my emails. I am really at a loss for additional words at this time.

    From experience, I know that sometimes there are years that we wish had just never existed. However, some good things have happened to you this year, and that is what you have to concentrate on when the grieve and heartache start to become overwhelming. You are such a courageous young lady, and I know that HIS love & strength will get you through. Don't forget, "When you reach the end of your rope, you will find the hem of HIS garment.

    With sincerity & prayers,
    Karyl~ Bonners Ferry, ID


  18. Sharon,

    I believe Karyl is right!

    I too have been getting hit one after the other, and when we do become closer to the Lord is when the enemy fights, his strongest. That is what builds up I believe. That's what make our faith firm.

    I am praying for you and your family indeed!

  19. Ladies,
    I want to Thank everyone for there prayers for the families. & for myself. It is such a blessing to be blessed by all of you beautiful ladies.
    Thank You Very Much.
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  20. Thank you, Sylvia & Karyl, for the reminder that their is more than one way to serve Jesus. It's when we compare our "gifts" against another that we find ourselves lacking (or superior!)

    Jesus wasn't rebuking Martha for her service, but for her attitude.


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