Are you Martha or Mary and does it matter?
I don’t believe Jesus was telling Martha that what she was doing was unnecessary.
In 21st century culture, particularly in the Western world, we have so many distractions that sometimes we forget the essentials. For example, when you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you do? I know that many check their social media status, text messages or WhatsApp. Others get up and may attend to family life, children, breakfast, pack lunch, shower, school runs, transit to work, etc. However, what is missing from all these activities is being in God’s presence. I have heard people say they are so busy they don’t have time to pray. I can see how that might happen if we don’t get our priorities right.
Priority is the issue here I believe. Jesus pointed out to Martha in Luke 10: 38-42 when she complained that Mary was not attending to the chores. Jesus gently scolded her by saying “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her (Luke 10: 41-42).
Anyone who has the tendency to be task focused like Martha might be offended or even a little irritated that Jesus gently rebukes her for the seeming lack of spiritual balance. Afterall, if you have an important guest visiting surely the polite and respectful thing is to prepare a good meal, make sure the house is clean, and there is a good welcome. Martha seemed to be stressed, because not only did Jesus turn up, but he brought an entourage with Him, so that was even more work! And yet through all Martha’s busyness Mary did not lend a hand, she stayed at her Master’s feet listening to His words of wisdom. What many commentators of this often-debated story don’t highlight is the fact that it is Martha who first welcomes Christ to her home. She knew that being in His presence was important, she just seemed to get the balance wrong!
I don’t believe Jesus was telling Martha that what she was doing was unnecessary. Jesus was pointing out that Martha had stressed so much about the practical chores that she had forgotten to be in His presence. How many of us get so bogged down with our day-day lives that we forget to communicate with the author and finisher of our faith? (Hebrews 12:2). And what about Mary? If we have no balance in our lives and spend all day contemplating as Mary did, then nothing would be achieved! Remember faith without works is futile (James 2:14-26).
There, are a few messages here. Firstly, life is about balance. There is a time to pray and contemplate and a time for action. We are all given gifts and talents to utilise for the good of others and God’s Kingdom. My other point is that we should be placing our anxieties, fears, doubts, strategies and plans unto God who knows and hears us and knows what is best for us. The bible tells us that we should ‘seek first the Kingdom of God so that all things can be added unto you’. Only then we can be at peace with everything we face during our busy lives.
Minister Madge Obaseki
Healthy Church Growth Advocate
Grow The Church Now