Mary? Martha? – Week of July 18, 2022
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 few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Martha or Mary? Which one? I’m wondering if you are at all like me when you read this story. I often think, “Yes Jesus, but give Martha a break. You and your disciples are there, and the meal won’t just arrive. She was trying to be a good host to you and your disciples.”
And then I reread the final sentence that reminds us of the one thing truly needed—sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to him.
What’s the right thing to do? First, you and I likely are a little bit Mary and a little bit Martha. Last week’s devotion spoke about serving others out of love and gratitude for all God has done for us. Serving others is certainly God pleasing. Martha preparing a meal for her Lord and the disciples is a blessed task. Imagine making a meal for such a group with the conveniences available at that time. It’s remarkable. However, note carefully Jesus’ response. He doesn’t reprimand her for preparing the meal. “You are worried and upset about many things,” is what Jesus says to Martha. It’s not the work, it’s the worry and stress that Martha is expressing that are the concern.
Mary. Someone to whom we may aspire. She had her priorities set. She sat quietly and received Jesus’ service to her. She was focused on worship and her worship was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him. I can’t think of a more idyllic way to spend an afternoon.
So, what’s the take-away for us? God loves our service to him as we express our love to him through that service. God loves our worship. Our worship flows out of receiving his service to us. As God fills us through the Word, we respond by reflecting his grace in our acts of service to others. So, be a Martha who eagerly serves. Be careful that the tasks that you do don’t get in the way of your time in the Word and at Jesus’s feet in devotions, worship, Bible study. Be a Mary that prioritizes time with the Savior. Treasure that time in the Word and then take what you hear and learn from God’s Word with you in all the things you do each day.
Martha? Mary? How about a Martha with Mary’s heart for the Word and a Mary with Martha’s heart to serve? It’s not really about either woman. It’s all about Jesus, what he has done, growing in faith through the Word, and responding in service to him and to others.
Dear Jesus, help me to always treasure and prioritize my time with you in the Word, in prayer, in devotions, in worship. Help me to reflect your love for me in the service that I strive to do for others. In your name I pray. Amen.
For Further Meditation:
CW21 913 Come Away from Rush and Hurry
CW21 645/CW93 290 One Thing’s Needful