As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 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!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “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.” – Luke 10:38-42
The passage highlights the quintessential Bible story about choosing proper priorities. And while this is one of the great lessons that comes from the story, I think there are other ways of looking at it with equally important lessons to be learned. In fact, I think if we’re totally honest with ourselves, we can all find something about us that relates to both Mary and Martha.
I know that the Mary in me would be captivated by the discussion and the opportunity to hear what so great a guest would say, forgoing the little things for the more enthralling conversation. It’s easy for me to shirk work responsibilities when something more compelling is available. This tends to put me in line with the common interpretations of the story – that hearing Christ is more important than the house work. So where’s my Martha moment? More often than not, it comes from my strong desire to make everything go perfectly. I know that I cannot achieve perfection, but I still work very hard to try to make things right. I notice when conversations seem to go sour – even mildly – and set out to make things right. I was raised with a focus to resolve issues quickly. When dealing with people I truly care about, that desire to solve the problem becomes even stronger. On one side, I can defend this by saying that God desires conflict resolution and I am merely pursuing what God has said. However, I have also allowed myself at times to become so focused on saying the right things that I’ve made situations even worse. In any event, the attention paid to trying to make everything perfect has created problems within my relationships – both professionally and personally. You’ve seen this in some of the things that I say – the say it and explain it game. This zeal becomes a form of managing the situation – a method that doesn’t work in most places. What I have prayed about and worked on is knowing God is in charge, so I trust Him and let situations occur more naturally. This brings greater comfort, less analysis, and fuller trust that God is moving things toward the end He desires.
What are your Mary and Martha moments? Whatever they may be, remember that despite their different approaches, Christ was still able to meet both of their needs and bring them to a strong and growing faith. Remember, it was Martha who would later declare in John 11:21-22…
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Whether your day is filled with Mary or Martha moments, I pray that you will be filled with the sure knowledge of the power of Christ in your life. May God bless you richly today, giving you rest and productivity in those areas you choose to pursue. Be filled with His love and inspired to continue to serve with the diligence and excellence that you have demonstrated so often in your life.