It is Tuesday here at Getting Real and Drawing Near and you know what that means, right? No? Well, neither do I. Wait, I know, it means we are another day closer to a few days off! [Can you tell I am a little giddy today?]
This year I am a little happier than normal because I don’t have the responsibility of hosting Thanksgiving. I hate to admit it, but the stress of it all does not bring out the best in me. Let me just say I have never heard anyone say they saw Jesus in me during these family holiday meals. I know I am not alone in this as many women struggle with enjoying some family time while “making it all happen.” When I see others simply relaxing and looking at black Friday ads while I am working my tail off, I get a little resentful , hurt, and maybe even a little jealous. I can’t even hide it; I am a Martha.
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feetlistening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. 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!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[f] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
We have heard this story many times no doubt. We’ve heard that Martha was too busy bustling around taking care of this and that to take the time to listen to Jesus’ teaching as Mary did. This passage has been used to tell us to slow down and make more time for Jesus. This is true of course, but it has never felt enough for me. Why? Well, wasn’t it custom for women to work in the kitchen and not be in the living room with the men? Was it not custom that Jesus be served a nice meal? Someone had to make the preparation seeing as the meal was not going to make itself.
Where did Martha go wrong?
I have asked myself this many times. I will admit I am a “doer” at church. Let me be real honest here: there are things that need done. Sermons must be prepared; bulletins must be put together, typed, printed; churches need cleaned; snacks need made; Sunday school lessons and crafts must be organized; clean up is a must. How would all this get done if we all just sat at Jesus’ feet all day long?
I think we have all been here before. A group of people cleaning up the kitchen after a church function, while many, many more just sit around and fellowship together. “Hmm, Hmm, cough, cough…a little help here? We would like to fellowship some more too. If you all would pitch in, we could all fellowship.” Any of these thoughts sounding familiar? Have your hearts ever been in this place?
One time, I dared asked one of the ladies, “Why don’t you give us a hand?” Her response verbatim, “I am not a Martha, I am a Mary!” I had to really bite my tongue because I really wanted to say, “No, what you are is L-A-Z-Y!” [Remember that little ol verse Luke 6:45, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks?” Yep, I knew I was in trouble. Stay tuned.]
Where did Martha go wrong? Where did Missy go wrong?
Last night I was reading “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World,” by Joanna Weaver, and I think I found the answer. Seeing as I left the book at home by accident, let me paraphrase Joanne’s understanding of Luke 10:38-41:
Martha was not rebuked/chastised because she was serving. Jesus chastised her for her attitude regarding serving.
You see, when we serve we are supposed to do it with joy. If you think about it both Martha and Mary were serving Jesus, but only one was happy about it.
As you can tell from the stories above, I’ve been there. I know exactly how Martha feels. She wants to listen to Jesus, she wants to sit as his feet as well, but she knows these other things must be done as well. It is frustrating to see others enjoying themselves while there is work to be done. What I now understand thanks to Martha (and Joanne Weaver) is it is about the condition of the heart. Instead of allowing “kitchen service” to take us away from Jesus, we should use it to draw us near to him. Instead of grumbling and complaining about the mundane chores, we take honor in being allowed to serve the Lord. Instead of getting angry with others for failing to do their parts, we take comfort knowing we are serving Jesus and we are drawing close to him through this service. You see, Martha was doing a good thing for Jesus. She was meeting His needs. Had she had a better attitude and not allowed jealousy get the best of her, I believe Jesus would have found her service just as pleasing as Mary’s attentiveness.
In “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World,” Joanna Weaver also says:
“Service without spirituality is exhausting and hopeless. Spirituality without service is barren and selfish.”
I think that says it all.
So, back to my question earlier, “How do we get things done and remain at Jesus’ feet?” Then answer is simple: We take Jesus with us as we go about serving when serving must be done. I believe there is a time and a place for everybody and everything. We must not busy ourselves to the point of distraction, but not be so “heavenly minded that we are of not earthly good.”
This Holiday season, let us all remember to make Jesus a part of every part of our celebrations. Remember, 1 Corinthians 10:31, “31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Until next time, stay safe and God bless,