Luke 10:38 – 42
“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.”
It was Martha that welcomed Jesus into her house. It was Martha that got the ball rolling for her and her sister to enjoy the company of Jesus in the home. Martha is the one who acted upon the need for fellowship. It was Martha that was serving.
The world and the church needs people like Martha! People who will see a need and take the initiative to act on it. People who will be zealous to serve other. There was nothing wrong with Martha inviting Jesus into the house (of course) and also there was nothing wrong with her serving. So why then did Jesus tell her that Mary had chosen the good portion, implying that she had made a better choice over Martha?? The Bible teaches us that we should commune with the Lord and it teaches us that we should serve others. So then what was wrong with what Martha was doing?? Let’s address that:
1. Invited Him In Then Left the Room
When you invite someone into your home, do you get up and leave them there, or do you commune with them? It’s common courtesy to give them company and not just busy yourself with other things; even if those things are good and needed, that require doing in the home.
Martha invited Jesus in, which was great; but then she then went off to do other things. Things that by choosing them over Jesus, she implied as being more important. The presence of God is no minor thing, the fellowship of the saints is no throw away activity. Therefore, when such things are part of our moment, we ought to prioritize them and I think that by busying herself with serving, Martha wasn’t showing this priority for these two key things. Yes serving is a great way to glorify God, but there is a time to stop serving and simply sit at the feet of Jesus. The Kingdom of God will indeed remain standing without our constant serving and therefore to feel the need to always be doing things for others, even above spending time with God is to imply that we are the glue holding God’s work together.
2. Blinded By Her Schedule
Martha was so consumed by her schedule that she actually complained to JESUS about Mary not choosing to join her. Faced with the Lord Himself, Martha didn’t take that moment to praise Jesus or listen to Him; but instead, as if He was not the Lord and rather a random guest in the home, she took that moment to complain.
It’s possible for us to be so consumed with our own earthly schedules that we trivialize the presence of God and fail to see exactly what it is that we have access to. So overtaken can we be by our agendas that we simply cannot see how and why everyone else isn’t prioritizing it also, including prioritizing it over spending time with God. This is pride and this is not something that God likes.
Not only did Martha complain to Jesus, but she also accused Him of not caring that she was doing the work alone. Pride knows no bounds and this is why we have to attack it at every opportunity. If we don’t attack pride it will attack our relationship with God and people. When we’re prideful in our service we think that anyone and everyone, including God that doesn’t urge all to assist us in the work, is inconsiderate and unaware of the burden we carry. Prideful serving happens when we think that our time, our way, our choice is all that matters. God is not pleased with this, no matter how great the result of the service.
The Bible says that Martha was DISTRACTED by much serving. Something that distracts you, shifts your focus from the main thing/the important thing. The problem wasn’t that Martha was serving, but that she allowed herself to be DISTRACTED from Jesus by it. Outside the home, she was focused on Jesus, to a point where she invited Him in. However once she got in the home, she became distracted from Him.
Though it is a godly thing to keep the home, we as women run the risk of being distracted by our homes. Anything that we as humans are passionate about has the potential of distracting us from God and that’s why we have to be very careful about setting strict boundaries around our passions and disciplining ourselves to pause; regardless of our zeal to continue. These passions may keep the home, pay the bills, keep us healthy, keep the organization running and whatever else; but they are all vessels of God. He is the Master and Sovereign Ruler. Our passions are the most obvious potential idols in our lives.
Martha could have chosen not to serve at that moment and sit at the feet of Jesus along with Mary. Would the things that she was doing have not been done? Probably so, if she had no one else to help. The thing is, that ok! We can’t always get everything done and God hasn’t called us to perfection, so that’s ok. We have a limited amount of time and a variety of choices to make; so we have to be selective and not everything can be picked all the time; but there are some things that should not be neglected. We have to establish what those things are and understand that they are the things that God has primarily called us to. God calls us to many things, but some are more important than others and so there need to be times where we sacrifice the less important so that the most important isn’t neglected.