It’s that time of year when the duality of the inner self comes to the surface to see who’s really boss. The type A and the Type B sides, the task-oriented and the people-oriented sides, the inner Martha and the inner Mary. We all strive to be Marys, but about this time each year the inner Martha (no, not Martha Stewart, though that could apply as well) tries to take the reigns. With Thanksgiving less than a week away, we need to be on guard, because we all know that the inner Martha don’t play. And it’s almost go time. Side dishes have been claimed, cookbooks have been scoured, “what can I get away with crock-potting?” has been Googled. All that’s left to do is roll up into the local grocer like you own the joint, and bake the you-know-what out of your dish. This is why we train. Once hurricane Martha has left the building, we then try to beckon our inner Mary to come out of the corner and be lovely and stuff. Some chalk the sisters up to being wired differently— people oriented vs. task oriented—and call it a day. But Jesus said otherwise, and it would be wise of us to study this passage as we enter into next week’s festivities.
Let’s back up and take a closer look at the story.
“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.” Luke 10:38-42
Let me just say that I totally get why Martha is upset. I mean, when God in carnet is the dinner guest for the evening, concern is certain to ensue. Plus, the food’s not going to cook itself, right? And what about the disciples, are they there too? What does one cook for the Messiah? Should she refer to Leviticus to prepare some sacrificial dishes? Yeah, I feel you Marth, you’ve got a lot to do. Jesus saw that too. And all things considered, He said that Mary had chosen the better portion.
There are three things that we can note from this text and apply to our hearts as we enter into the Holiday season.
It says Martha was distracted, but with what?
Much serving. Think about that for a moment. She was distracted by serving her guest, the Lord. Can someone be too busy with serving? Is that a thing? Let’s just say I have a knack for finding less flattering things to distract myself with (shout out to Netflix and Social Media). Maybe she was trying to impress the Lord with her hostess abilities, or maybe she was in survival mode trying to whip something together to feed the Messiah. Regardless, she was distracted by the task at hand and missed a moment with the Messiah because of it.
Are you too busy doing things for the Lord that you miss out on spending time with the Lord?
What can you anticipate yourself being distracted by? What will you be distracted from?
What does Martha say to Jesus?
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?”
Nothing says notice me like a classic accusation of apathy. It’s times like that these that I find I want my efforts to be at the very least noticed, and preferably doted on. This is so that I can lie and nonchalantly act as if it was no trouble or my pleasure or something classy like that. Dignity demands that we don’t actually receive the praise and confess our efforts. But when your kitchen looks like a hoarder’s playground, you’re covered in flour from scalp to butt crack, and when you’ve just dropped three weeks of fun money to buy a bag of freaking pecans, the very least everyone in the surrounding community can do is say “I SEE YOU GIRL”, am I right? But what if we don’t get it? Is the day ruined? We have to ask ourselves if we can be content serving without recognition, without help, and without being noticed.
Are you willing to do the behind the scenes service to cultivate an environment for the type of connections Mary is having with Jesus, even if you don’t get to partake in the moment or don’t get noticed for your efforts?
How did Jesus respond to Martha?
“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.”
Jesus reminds Martha to keep the main thing the main thing. The entire purpose for all her efforts was to welcome Jesus into her home. And in preparing to welcome, host, and dare I say impress Him, she missed the moment to be with Him. In her effort to do something for Jesus, she forfeited the opportunity to sit with Jesus.
How can you prioritize sitting with those in your home next week?
How can you prioritize spending time with Jesus next week?
The show will go on if the turkey is overcooked, the gravy isn’t salty enough, or the potatoes come from a box. But don’t miss the opportunities to enjoy the good portion—the experiential encounters— that point us to Jesus and provide us with the opportunity to point those around us to him as well. Your loved ones may or may not remember the corn casserole, but they will not forget the experience the had or love they felt. Let’s strive for that.