Hello! Crista, here. I hope that this day greets you with a keen awareness of all the blessings you have in the Lord!
I continue this week in a review of the book A Life That Says Welcome. To read my thoughts on Chapter 1, click here. This week I will review Chapter 2, "A Look in the Book." In today's edition, I'll zero in on just one aspect of the chapter: a comparison of Mary and Martha, you know those sisters who served Jesus. You can read their story in full in Luke 10:38-42, but here's a quick summary:
Jesus was in His ministry years, wandering from town to town with His disciples. They stopped at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Luke reports that while Mary was listening intently to Jesus' teaching and sitting at His feet, Martha was rushing around the kitchen trying to get a meal together for Jesus and the other guests. Martha became frustrated with Mary for not helping and asked the Lord to ask Mary to help, for goodness sake! Jesus' response?
"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."
As Karen says in the chapter, Martha often gets a bad-rap because of this response. She gets labeled as the "bad" sister. Some women conclude, from this story, that it is better to sit quietly and reverently at the feet of Christ than to be busy in the kitchen, no matter what. Karen did an excellent job pointing our observation in a different direction. Jesus did not say that Martha's meal preparations were wrong. Rather, He pointed out that her attention was too focused on the trivial issues of the meal (like the presentation of the bread on the platter, the color of the napkins coordinating with the color of the tablecloth and dishes, and using only silverware that matches) rather than on the important -- relationship with their very important Guest. Mary took a humble position -- at the Lord's feet -- and listened intently to His Words, soaking up the time she had with Him in her home. Martha was so busy with preparations that she was missing this precious time with Jesus.
What we often miss in this story is that BOTH Mary and Martha demonstrated spiritual strengths in these circumstances. Mary's strength was a life of devotion, while Martha's was a life of service. In our churches, in our homes, in our friendships, in our communities, we need BOTH kinds of women. Both kinds of women are necessary to the healthy functioning of Christ's Body on earth...we need the women devoted to prayer to pray for what we take in hand to do in the Lord's service. We need the women devoted to service to make things happen. Marthas tend to get annoyed with Marys for not getting things done NOW NOW NOW! Marys on the other hand can get equally frustrated with Marthas for not slowing down long enough to pray and seek the Lord's counsel.
The fact is, Marthas and Marys, we need each other.
"The Marthas among us need to work more on preparing our hearts to serve others before we prepare our homes -- maybe some of you Marys need to learn to help us with the housework!"
We both of us need to be looking to our Lord for wisdom and guidance, because He was the perfect blend of both. In His ministry on earth, He met peoples' physical needs (healing the sick, feeding the hungry) WHILE He taught them how to have a right relationship with God.
So, I've pretty well revealed which sister I tend to model...what about you? If you're a Martha, what can you do to practice preparing your heart as a part of serving others? If you're a Mary, what can you do to be helpful in practical ways while you nurture relationships with others? I'd love to hear from you!
Picture Credits: Tintoretto, Jacopo Robusti (Italian, 1518-1594), Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, 1570-75, canvas, Pinakothek at Munich. From Carol Gerten-Jackson's CJFA fine arts web site.