Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mary, Mary, Never Contrary

"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

No one has ever accused me of being a Martha. Don't get me wrong. My house is clean - sort of - and I can cook you a great Southern meal if you come over for dinner. I just hope you feel at home enough in my house to get up and refill your own sweet tea. (Glasses are in the top cabinet to the left of the stove)

I believe I have always had a little pride in not being a Martha. After all, Jesus did rebuke her. Tonight, though, as I read the story again, the Lord took me down a notch as I realized being worried and upset and busy don't necessarily have to do with my housekeeping skills. Sigh.

Now, I don't think there was a thing in the world WRONG with Martha wanting to be hospitable - especially to Jesus. I mean, really, if the God of the Universe in human form was having dinner at your house, wouldn't you want everything to be perfect?!?! I want Jesus to be welcome in my home, at my dinner table, with my friends...The problem was that Mary let all of her preparations come between her and her relationship with her Savior. Here he is. In her house. Telling her things that only God can know. And she is too busy in the kitchen to listen. I'm sensing a priority problem. 

I was interested to find a note in my Bible under the word 'preparations' indicating that the Greek word used here is diakonia. If this sounds familiar, its because its the word we get 'deacon' from. It means 'to serve, to attend to, to MINISTER to'. In one sense of the word, Martha was doing exactly what our deacons are called to do - serve and minister. Unfortunately, her service and her ministry was not what God wanted from her at that moment. Uh oh. You mean all my service at church is getting me nowhere, if I'm not spending time with him? Maybe, just maybe, I have some Martha tendencies after all? 

Here are a few insights I gained from the passage tonight:
1. Jesus wanted to spend time with Martha. He wasn't judging her for not listening to his teaching. He was disappointed because he loved her and he wanted to be with her, too. (John 11:5) In my own insecurity, sometimes I think it really doesn't matter if I pray or have my quiet time, because I'm not really all that important. He could be spending time with Billy Graham, or Tony Evans, or Beth Moore - why waste time on me?? I know in my head that God wants to spend time with me, too. It just has a hard time really making it into my heart sometimes. Tonight, he reminded me that it is important to him, that I take the time to be with him.
2. Martha placed the wrong priority on service. Service is good. We are called to minister to those around us. But not at the expense of our relationship with the Lord. Another note in my Bible says, "Our service to others should be in direct relationship to our time spent at the feet of Jesus." If I am not spending time with him, how do I know if my service is misplaced? How do I know if my priorities are right or wrong? Am I doing a good thing for the wrong reason? How can I minister to others if I am not allowing Jesus to minister to and teach me? 
3. Martha had a touch of ADD (she was distracted). Distraction is so easy these days. Work, TV, computers, smart phones, internet, activities, and on and on and on..... I get distracted too often from the moment I walk in the door after work to the last second before I lay my head on the pillow. So many things vying for my attention. It may not be the dishes in the sink calling my name, but I get distracted nonetheless.

What I need to take away from this:
  • He loves me and wants to spend time with me. He misses me when I don't. 
  • I need to get my priorities straight. I may need to step back from areas of service if they are interfering with my ability to spend time with Jesus.
  • I need to make sitting and listening part of my daily Bible study and quiet time routine. That's all Mary was doing..sitting and listening. What I gain from that time will not be taken from me.
  • I need to be intentional about getting rid of distractions. Plan a time and a place where I can sit at his feet without interruption.

And now, just for giggles.. Once upon a time, in another Bible study, I had to write an epitaph for Mary and Martha. So for your reading pleasure:

"Here lies Martha. Resting in peace for the very first time."

"Mary, Mary, never contrary, still sits at her Savior's feet.
She now can rejoice
For she hears His sweet voice
And from Martha - she can't hear a peep."


  1. Beautifully written! You encouraged me so much. I also loved the last part and it brought a huge smile to my face. I am not a Martha with housekeeping but a Martha in so much more.

    Jennifer Newsom
    OBS Leadership Team

  2. Love love love this!! I am bookmarking this post.... I especially love this 'I mean, really, if the God of the Universe in human form was having dinner at your house, wouldn't you want everything to be perfect?!?!' Oh my.... if the God of the Universe was coming to MY house for dinner??? I would DEFINITELY be a Martha (because I am NOT a Martha in regard to housekeeping either).... I might just serve dinner on the porch and hope he didn't have to use the restroom!
    Beautiful post... thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Love, love, love this!!! I love the points you are taking away from the Mary and Martha story and they are something I too need to remember. Thank you for sharing!!!

    Kris (OBS Small Group Leader)

  4. Love this whole post! The ending was awesome!!! And your take away points are much needed =)

  5. Judie, Enjoyed your post! Not a Martha in housekeeping, ha (not like use to be anyway). I would be running around like a chicken with my head cut off if God of the universe was at my table! Your post gave me a chuckle! Thank you! ~Martha