Today the church I attend had a sermon about Mary and Martha from the bible. If you remember from the New Testament the part where Mary and Martha come in is where Jesus and the disciples are reclining at the table, Martha is in the kitchen cleaning up and Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet. Martha, Mary’s sister, says to Jesus, "Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" (Luke 10:40 NIV) "Martha, Martha," Jesus replies, "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," (Luke 10:41-42 NIV).
This is an interesting portion of the bible. Sometimes people think that as Christians we should be like Martha. Martha is attending to the needs of other believers and probably doing some good around the house. Mary on the other hand is just sitting and listening to Jesus. I think that the purpose of recording this scenario in the bible was not to say that as Christians we should just sit back and loaf but rather that we need to give the Lord the reins.
As Christ rebukes Martha, He tells her that she is worried and upset about many things. He is apparently contrasting her to Mary who is relaxed enough to listen. Mary trusts in the Lord. She trusts that the work will wait. She trusts that Jesus knows what is more important. Martha doesn’t. Martha thinks that even Jesus doesn’t know what He’s doing in allowing Mary to sit at His feet.
I don’t think that it’s a good idea to scoff at Martha and try to emulate Mary if the only quality you wish to emulate is their productivity. Martha deserves some accolades for serving the Lord and opening her home to Him. What she fails to appreciate is that the Lord is in her home. This is the same Lord that served 5000 families on some loaves of bread and a few small fish. Did she think that He couldn’t accommodate His own entourage? Did she think that He couldn’t finish what He started? I can see the huge pile of dishes now. But let’s not blame Martha. We’ve all seen what looks like an insurmountable task and, before even thinking to pray, worried ourselves sick.
Jesus knows that Martha is worried in His presence and that Mary is relaxed. He commands his disciples not to worry because by worrying they cannot add a single hour to their lives (Matthew 6:27). In other words, we are all headed for the grave — why worry? We need to do like Mary and put Jesus in charge. Give Him the floor. Listen when He speaks. Pray, listen, then act.