Busy or fruitful – can you tell the difference?
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 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 10:41-42)
Recently, we celebrated Easter. Most of us likely spent it with family. Some families get along great while others can’t go a holiday without bickering and showing some impressive differences in personality. Luke tells a story of a typical family with two sisters who couldn’t have been more different: Mary and Martha. (Their brother Lazarus is the one who Jesus raised from the dead.)
Luke 10 gives a little glimpse into their lives. Martha was the “responsible” sister, who was on the ball and worked her tail off to make sure everything was ready when Jesus came to stay. I totally get Martha. I relate to her. She and I would’ve been good friends if I’d lived 2,000 years ago.
And then there’s Mary: the free spirit. The lover/peacemaker. The one who might be prone to wandering off because she’s marveling at nature. She’s the one I don’t understand one bit, because to me—at first glance—she was lazy.
I mean, hello! There were things to be done and all she was doing was sitting “at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said”. (Luke 10:39b) Meanwhile, Martha was running around like a chicken with her head cut off. In my mind, I can see the feathers flapping and flying as she races around the kitchen.
But here’s the thing. Even though Martha’s intentions were good, even though she was taking care of others and serving them, Jesus told her that “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42b)
That’s right. Mary chose what was better. Jesus also told Martha these wise words, “[Y]ou are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” (Luke 10:41b-42a) That “one” thing that’s needed is Jesus.
It’s so, so easy for us to get wrapped up in all that we have to do. Our lives are full of “doing.” Much of the time, the activities that fill our day are intended to lift others up and serve the Lord. And that, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. What is bad is when the “doing” outweighs—or altogether obliterates—the time spent praying, seeking God’s face, listening to what He has to say.
Father, Remind me that time with you is not a duty or even an item to be checked of my to do list. Time with you is a gift. Help me to honor that and to come and be still before You. I want to hear what You have to say.
Question: Have you ever struggled with being a Martha? If so, what could you do to be more like Mary in your everyday life?