Definitely a Martha, Desiring to be like Mary

3.27.2016 |

Leftover coffee from this morning has never tasted so good.  It's the blonde roast, of which I am normally not a fan.   I just popped it into the microwave and voila! somehow it tastes amazing.  (or it could just be that I am so exhausted that I don't care about taste anymore)

Regardless, happy resurrection Sunday!  I am glad you stopped by and I hope you can somehow relate to this post and give me grace upon grace with this topic.  Go grab a cup of (perhaps leftover) coffee, I'll still be here.

I have been reading through Luke the past two weeks.  Yesterday I was hit square in the face with a truth so convicting it was all I read.  I dwelt on this one passage and sought other passages similar.  It's the story of Mary and Martha, two sisters who love Jesus and are loved by Jesus.  As I was reading, I realized how similar my attitude is to Martha.  I have posted scripture below, and it is read through critical lenses focusing on Martha's outlook.  To fully understand my points near the end of this post, you need to read the scriptures.


Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)
38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”



I am a hard-headed Martha, but I want to be more like the soft-hearted Mary.

As if this passage of scripture isn't convicting enough, I flipped on over to John 11 where Jesus again meets Mary and Martha upon the death of their brother, Lazarus.  I wanted to know more about these women, but I in turn learned striking truths about myself.


John 11:1-6 (ESV)
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus[a] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.


John 11:20-27 (ESV)
20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[d] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”


John 11:28-35 (ESV)
28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved[e] in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.


John 11:39-40 (ESV)
39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 



I am a know-it-all Martha, but I want to be more like the humble-spirited Mary.  

Martha is a busy-body wanting to make sure her guests are well entertained with good food and a clean house.  She is concerned with fairness and making sure everyone does their fair share of helping.  She is distracted from the mission at hand, which is Jesus, and more concerned with external affairs.  Martha can't sit still and she can't stand waiting.  Martha is a servant (John 12:2).  Martha thinks she knows all the answers, but she is quickly corrected.  Martha is very matter-of-factly.  Martha believes that Jesus is the Son of God.  Martha is loved by Jesus.

Mary is concerned with savoring Jesus himself.  She sits at Jesus' feet.  She listens to his teachings.  She cares for Jesus.  Mary serves Jesus with all that she has, using her own hair as a rag (John 12:3).  Mary falls at the feet of Jesus in humility.  She is not afraid of showing emotion and cries in front of Jesus, she cries with Jesus.  She recognizes Jesus' authority.  Mary is loved by Jesus.

I am Martha.

Being Martha is not all bad.  Martha is a servant, through and through, but there are several times that she forgets the mission.  Likewise, I love to serve and might bend over backwards to do it, but there have been several times where I am completely missing the point of the mission, or have the wrong attitude and outlook on the serving.  The mission is Jesus.  The mission is sharing Jesus.  The mission is people, it's loving on people.  And I miss it.  Completely.

As a teacher, I have students come to me to share some of their deepest struggles or desiring advice on specific things.  I only have 90 minutes at most of free time during the hustle and bustle of the school day.  This is when the students come and unleash their thoughts.  And through studying Mary and Martha, I realized how I have not been giving my all to these students.  I am "talking" to the students while I am grading papers, typing notes, entering grades, cleaning the lab, etc; or I tell them I am too busy and to come back later.  I am distracted with getting things done, as Martha was.  I have missed the mission completely.

Like Martha in John 11:24 thinking she knows what Jesus is about to say, I think I know the answers.  I continuously finish Mark's sentences like I know what he is going to say; however, ten out of ten times I stand corrected.

I think logically, I see black and white, I analyze situations just like Martha.  She tells Jesus that Lazarus has been dead for four days so there is bound to be a foul stentch.  Jesus reminds her of the mission.  His glory is the mission.

Mark and I had a newly engaged couple over to our house for dinner.  The point of this dinner was to listen to them, get to know them better, and share the love of Christ.  After we had finished eating but were still chit-chatting, I got up to start cleaning the dishes.  Mark was quick to ask me to sit down and continue talking.  It was in that moment I knew that cleaning the dishes and making the house look better was more of a priority to me than engaging these people in a godly conversation.  This is a total Martha move.

I honestly could continue to go on and on with my Martha-moments, but that is enough for one blog post.
I want to be more like Mary.

How do I be more like Mary?  God's word tells us.  You savor Christ above all else, like Mary.  We sit and listen to Christ's teachings.  We fall at his feet in utter humility.  We acknowledge that he has the authority to do whatever he pleases.  We seek to serve him with everything we have, offering all of ourselves (even if it means our hair, eww, but seriously).

God made each of us unique, with unique personalities and unique passions and abilities.  Me, he made me with a Martha personality. (It is thought that Martha was the older of the sisters, which would fall right in line with me being the eldest sister). This is not a bad thing at all.  Martha has some solid qualities.  However, if we miss the point of these personalities and abilities and throw ourselves an "it's not fair" pity party (which in my negative Martha-moments I am ever so likely to do), we are bound to miss the mission completely.  We will have thrown our unique abilities away in our saturated self-centeredness.

The most comforting and most wonderful thing is that God knows who we are better than we know ourselves.  He speaks to us in the way that we need to be spoken too.  For Mary, he cries with her and comforts her.  For Martha, he speaks directly to her-bluntly-in wisdom, but is gracious and affectionate to her.  He knows what we need.  We need more of Him, and He is faithful to give us that-whether we identify more with Martha or align with Mary.  He is the mission.

I am Martha, but I will seek to be more like Mary making the mission supreme above all else.


Which sister are you most like?  What tendencies of Martha do you see in yourself?  What Mary-like characteristics do you see in yourself?  

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