Sometimes the Lord just won’t leave me alone! In this regard lately, He keeps bugging me about the story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42) and how their actions relate to this month’s spiritual discipline (Holy Habit) of “Bible Study and Meditation on Scripture.” These two sisters, according to what I’m hearing from the Lord, could almost be seen as representative of today’s church attendees. What!?? How!??
In Martha’s case, she’s busy with activities that serve Jesus and his disciples. Isn’t church activity a good thing, Lord? Yes! But it’s not “what is better” (Luke 10:42). Martha is so busy doing church that she doesn’t have the time or inclination to personally be with Jesus, as Mary has chosen to do. Martha opts for activity over intimacy. Ouch!
Martha obviously has a servant’s heart. She probably loves the feeling of being needed. Maybe she loves cooking; maybe her love language is spoken every time she receives “words of affirmation” for her food or her original recipes. She’s probably the oldest in the family, so maybe she sees it as her responsibility to get people in the same space with a great teacher like Jesus. Or just maybe she finds her truest identity when she’s in the middle of a crowd of like-minded people. Whatever her motivation for “opening her home to Jesus,” she knows she’s good at hospitality, and showing it gives her feelings of belonging. That is, until she gets overwhelmed and publically blows her top!
I can relate, can’t you? Sometimes giving my all to serve at church just wears me out and the grouch in me just will not be contained! But somebody has to do the work, right? Especially if I’m the one who has thought up the activity in the first place, and then failed to get anyone to help out! Ouch! Ouch!
The details of Martha’s life are sketchy in the Bible: she lives outside Jerusalem in the small town of Bethany; she has one sister (Mary) and one brother (Lazarus). Since the Bible tells us she “opened her home,” we have to assume she is either a widow or has never married, but somehow she owns her own home. From my standpoint, she’s sounds like a perfect example of today’s independent working woman. We don’t know how she, Lazarus and Mary got to know Jesus. We just know Martha exhibits the gift of giving when it comes to her “stuff,” especially in relationship to peoples’ needs.
But she doesn’t give herself, does she, even to Jesus? The very Son of God is right there in her house and she doesn’t have time for him – or his teaching. And worse still, she’s critical of those who do, like her sister Mary. But Jesus doesn’t scold her, just as he doesn’t scold us when we’re too busy doing church activities – or other chores – for time with him. He just gently calls her name. Not once, but twice. Martha, Martha. Be with me, dear one, please. I love you so much. More than you know right now. But sit with me a while and you’ll see. This is where I am, waiting for you.
Oh, Jesus is so precious, you know? I’ve got to go now…he’s calling my name.