Are You Martha or Mary?

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 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!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)

Are you a Martha or a Mary? I can see both of them in myself sometimes.

Recently, I was part of a team that planned and prepared a women’s retreat for 63 women. When we arrived at the site of the retreat, we had a sound system to set up, materials to set out, rooms to prepare, crafts to make ready, food to arrange, and the list just went on! When the team got off the bus and got started, it seemed there was a flurry of activity as each woman set out on a mission to fulfill her task. And me? I sort of stood there for awhile…turning in circles, clasping my hands, wondering what I should do. I can take charge of a room of five-year-olds in no time, but when it comes to adults? I need to be directed! I spent a whole lot of minutes doing a bunch of nothing while these soldiers of preparedness marched away to conquer the “set up”. In that moment, I was not a Martha, though I was surrounded by women who possessed her greatest qualities!

I think Martha sometimes gets a bad rap from the story of old.  I would never disagree with our Lord when He pointed out her need, but I don’t think He did it in anger or with condemnation.

Martha was the picture of hospitality. The Bible introduces her in the most wonderful way in verse 38…”a woman named Martha opened her home to Him.” She opened up her home to our Lord! I’m sure she greeted Him at the door. She had probably been looking out the window as she stirred up the food and swept the floors (and if Mary was as I imagine her, she could’ve been humming a tune or reading a book:)). I imagine Martha ushered Him in quickly and got Him settled in the best seat. She then went on with her duties. As a matter of fact, the bible says she “got distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.”

Now this is where my Martha-ness comes in. I can easily be distracted by all of the tasks that consume my day. My family, my students, the classroom, writing, and my house all get lots of my attention during the day. Most days go by and I realize that I have stretched myself so thin that I am not paying attention to the One who is with me.

Mary paid attention to Him. She sat at His feet and listened to Him. She was so still and quiet before the Lord while the flurry of activity went on without her.

Oh, that I would be still and quiet before Him in the midst of my activities. Those moments when I stop and listen are so sweet, so peaceful. They are so worth it. They are required of me.

And yes, my house chores get left undone. My family’s clothes may be a little wrinkled. My bedtime may be pushed back later and later, or my alarm may have to be set earlier. When we make time to sit quietly with the Lord, we have to give some things up, but the rewards are far greater than the sacrifice.

When Martha noticed her sister sitting quietly, she was frustrated. She went so far as to order Jesus to tell Mary to help! Talk about a bossy sister! In her busyness, I’m sure she was tired. She was giving her all physically, and Mary was just sitting there.

I have to say, I’ve been known to just sit and  reflect while others were busy. Ask either of my sisters, and they will tell you which of the three of us is the slowest…Paige. Who is the last to get ready? Paige. Who is the last to get in the car? Paige. Who is the slowest walker? Paige.

I can’t help it! I like to look around and take it all in while I’m going from one point to the next! So I can understand Martha’s frustration with her sister. My sisters have had to urge me into action before. 🙂

I’ve thought of Jesus’ response often. He said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one.”

I don’t think He was just fussing at her. I think He loved her with the same love and patience He has for all of us. I think He said her name lovingly. “Martha, Martha.” Don’t worry. Don’t be upset. Just come and sit with me. Rest awhile. 

He reminded her of the most important thing that she was neglecting…time with Him. How often does He need to remind us not to be upset or worried?  How often does He call us to just come and sit with Him to rest? How often do we miss His call?

I think He calls my name many times just as He did Martha’s. I think that sometimes I have the audacity to order Him into action as she did.

“Lord, do you not see what that person did to me? That is so unfair! Do something!”

“Lord, help me out here!”

“Lord, show me what to do!”

And He says my name lovingly. “Paige, Paige.”

Don’t worry. Don’t be upset. Just come and sit with me. Rest awhile. 

It’s okay to be a Mary, it really is. It’s okay to let the house go sometimes, to let the work wait awhile.

And if you’re a Martha, that’s okay to. He lovingly calls you by name.

Don’t worry. Don’t be upset. Just come and sit with me. Rest awhile. 

Take a listen and rest awhile, friends.

Sharing on holleygerth.com and faithalongtheway.com.

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16 Responses to Are You Martha or Mary?

  1. storyad says:

    totally a Martha…

  2. Such a beautiful song, Paige, thank you.

  3. Have been so Martha most of my life. I think it was from a Kelly Minter study that the Lord really began to work on me and help me slow down and make better choices. It’s a journey- old habits are easy to fall back into. LOVE this song – cried with it yesterday too! And those ladies are amazing women-a balanced mix of Martha and Mary -set up an entire conference and then worship and give God all the praise!

  4. Hildi Doelitzsch says:

    I also think I am both a Martha and Mary in terms of doing my chores and sitting at the Lord`s feet. Although, I tend to be more of a Martha, I guess….. I like to have a clean and tidy house. And there is nothing wrong about that. However, something new struck me while reading this well-known passage again; “Martha, Martha, “the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things….”. I can hear the Lord saying the same to me; “Hildi, Hildi, you are worried and upset about many things…”

    I think the Lord used an incident the last couple of days to teach me in this area and help me to stop worrying and getting upset about so many things… As I said, I like to keep an orderly and tidy house. I know where everything is and can tell each family member where they can find what they are looking for (although I still have to run up and down stairs to find things for them anyway….) Well, I like to have control over what I am in charge of in my own household. I can easily lose my way when I`m out on the streets( no sense of direction…) but I hardly ever lose any of my possessions.

    But what hardly ever happens to me, happened last Saturday. I lost my house key and bicycle key….
    I was on my way out to do the weekend shopping when I realized that my keys were gone. I phoned three of my kids who had gone out earlier that day to ask them if they might have taken my keys when they left the house. I wish they had said yes, but their answers were no… I started searching jackets, drawers, behind and under furniture. At the same time, my worries grew bigger and bigger…. Some years ago, one of the kids bicycles was stolen from our shed. Ever since, I always make sure all our bicycles are locked. That Saturday morning, two of my kids had left early without locking the house door with the key. The rest of us were still upstairs sleeping. I started imagining somebody having come in and taken my keys, or maybe I had forgotten it in the door the day before and somebody had taken it…. Well, I had to go shopping, so I found my daughters bicycle key and house key and decided to continue my searching later.

    That Saturday evening I turned the whole house up side down. I usually don`t tidy the house on Sundays. But last Sunday was the years biggest tidying event! I found not few coins, small parts and a lot of….. dust under, in and behind furniture, jackets and trousers… but not my keys…. The only good news was that I found a key my daughter had been looking for for a while…

    All the while I was begging the Lord to show me where the key was.I remembered when I was little, in my first grades at school and had lost my ruler. I prayed, together with my mum, that i would find it, and the next day I found it at school. I guess the Lord taught me one lesson then, but wanted to teach me another lesson now.

    As my worries where growing bigger, I realized that my joy and peace were getting smaller… And by Monday evening I was also totally exhausted…. I was reminded about what Jesus said in Matthew 6; 25-34 about the birds and lillies and that our worrying will not add a single unit to our lives. (We should write a song about that one, Paige… or maybe you have one:-) ) It also made me look at my heart; what was most important to me? What if I lose possessions? What if things don^t go the way i want them in life? I will anyway die one day. What can I take with me? What lasts forever? The Lord said I should seek His kingdom first. He will take care of the rest. Oh, how hard this lesson is…. But I am learning….

    Also yesterday, I suddenly got upset with my husband about all the small reparations which need to be done in and around the house.It became more apparent to me after having turned the house upside down. He doesn`t see the urgency the same way as me.I was getting more and more mad at him.. and regret it now. It only harms the relationship to nag on each other like that. I cannot change my partner and he cannot change me. And my husband should be more important than our house etc. I am also learning to surrender that to the Lord…

    It is a hard lesson… But I was thinking about Mary.What was she talking to Jesus about? I don`t know, but maybe she also had things that were bothering her. But instead of trying to find her own solutions and control, she gave everything to the Lord and listened to Him.

    On Monday evening, my husband broke the bicycle lock and gave me another lock. Almost at the same time, I decided not to worry anymore and to surrender to the Lord. I started singing, thanking and praising the Lord and my joy and peace started to flood back:-)

    We should not let anything steal our joy and peace in the Lord! I was also thinking about a song I am learning , and which I sang in my singing lesson yesterday; “I bless Your name” by Selah ; “Some midnight hour, if you should find, you`re in a prison in your mind, reach out and praise, defy those chains, and they will fall in Jesus name”.

    This was loooong. But I think it`s nice to share what the lord has done in our lives so that we can help each other on our way with the Lord, as you are also doing so nicely, Paige! it is a blessing to read your blog, Paige, and to listen to your songs!:-)

  5. Melissa (Mom) says:

    I have been Martha most of my life. Not the “tidy-house” part, but other busy things, outdoor things, work things, etc….As I have gotten older, and hopefully wiser I have turned more to the Mary side. Now I can be a total Martha (like the weekend you just mentioned) and have to remind myself to turn it off and focus on Jesus and what he trying to say to me.

  6. There are a handful of ladies at my church, that I admire for their “Martha qualities.” Ministry would not be quite the same without them.
    I love this post Paige. It is a devotional that really makes me think. It is very important to get things done, but more important that we spend time with the Lord.
    Thank you for sharing this! 🙂
    ~Carl~

  7. Heather says:

    Hmmmm yeah I definitely have a split personality…I’m a lot Martha but Mary is making a comeback lately! And Paige– your song and voice!!! It’s beautiful!! I’m so glad I found your comment on my blog and it brought me to your blog! Blessings on you today friend!

  8. Such a great reminder to choose the better part. I have more Martha moments than Mary moments, but my heart to is to sit a spell at God’s feet and soak Him in – then jump up and take care of all the other stuff. I’m so grateful that God knows our hearts – He knit us together – and He loves us so completely with all our flaws and foibles in tow. 🙂

  9. sarahgirl3 says:

    I am more Mary but I get distracted easily. My sister is Martha and definitely fussed at me over the years! 😉

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