Mary and Martha are Contrasted

I am reminded of a father who brought things home from work in this “gotta do more” world. His little boy asked, “Mother, why does Daddy bring all that stuff home every night?” Mother answered, “Well honey, Daddy is so busy he just can’t get all his wor … More

Busy

 

This familiar story appears only in Luke, yet these two ladies, Mary and Martha, are among the most famous of all Bible characters. The village where Martha opened her home to Jesus was Bethany, which was just a few miles east of Jerusalem (v. 38). Jesus stays in Bethany during His final week on earth. On this occasion both Mary and Martha were serving Jesus, but Martha thought Mary’s style of serving was inferior to hers.

A sharp contrast is made between Martha who was “cumbered about much serving,” and Mary who “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his words” (vv. 39-40). This passage is not saying that people should be unconcerned with household chores (vv. 41-42). He was only asking her to set priorities. It is possible for our service for Christ to degenerate into mere busywork that is no longer full of devotion to God. We must choose to do the best things, and not be overly concerned about ourselves.

What we do with Christ is far more important than what we do for Christ. There is nothing wrong with serving, but we must first sit at Jesus’ feet and spend time with Him. That is why it is so important that every one of us has a quiet-time with the Lord each day.

Jesus did not blame Martha for being concerned about household chores. Martha’s problem was not that she had too much work to do, but that she allowed her work to distract her and caused her to have self-pity. Unless we meet Christ personally and privately each day, we will soon end up like Martha: busy but not blessed.

Application

 

Whenever I criticize others and pity myself because I feel overworked, I had better take time to examine my life. Who am I the most like - Mary or Martha and why?

Luke 10:38-42 (English Standard Version)

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."

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »