Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “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.”
I have always been a realist. Never the dreamer. Someone has to keep things running, right? We can’t all sit around singing!
Mary and Martha
You may know the story. The one from the Bible where two sisters, Martha and Mary are hanging out with Jesus. Everyone is getting hungry. Martha’s blood sugar has probably dropped and she may be getting grumpy. She finally gets super ticked at her sister (and maybe at Jesus too) because Mary is just sitting listening to Jesus while Martha is slaving away in the kitchen. No one may even be acknowledging that Martha is working her fingers to the bone. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” (Luke 10:40 MSG)
I can just imagine Martha’s thoughts…
Hello? I could use a little help here, Mary …?
Jesus, she only listens to You, tell her to help me!
She abandoned me!
Poor Martha. I can so relate.
But …. deep down, I long to relate more to Mary. Because Jesus was very clear that Mary had chosen the better way. And I want what pleases Jesus. But what does that really mean? Jesus could magically make food appear on the table, right? Should I then neglect feeding my family in favor of Bible study and prayer? Of course not.
I love the way the Message translation words this verse: The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 MSG)
It’s the main course.
How often do we also get things out of order. We put the activities, before knowing God. We start with our to-do list when we need a journal instead of a planner. Actually maybe we really only need our Bible!
It’s the motivation that makes the difference.
Just before Jesus was welcomed into Martha’s home, He was confronted by a lawyer who asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus gave him the main course: love God first, show compassion to others next. A simple two-step process. A simple order of God first, others next. With the common thread of love. LOVE God first, LOVE your neighbor next. LOVE is the only motivation that will produce lasting results from our actions. Mary had things out of order. She was focused on what needed to be done. Her focus needed to shift to the why, a love for God that produces a love for others.
And it’s a matter of trust. Trust is so many times the issue for me. Trusting when I put my relationship with God first, all else will fall into place. When I make time to be alone with Him, not distracted by all the things I think I need to get done, only then do I have my priorities in order, and all the things I truly need to accomplish, will get done. God created us. He created our days. He created 24 hours in each day. He created our bodies to need sleep for a large part of those 24 hours. He created a need deep within us to connect with Him during those 24 hours. He doesn’t force it. We can choose to either ignore Him, or embrace time spent with Him. Because out of our relationship with Him flows our motivation to act.