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.”
Luke 10:38-42 ESV
Countless books have been written about Jesus interaction with Mary and Martha. Martha has been championed as hard working, and taking care of the household, and painted as a workaholic who neglects God due to her focus on the tasks at hand. Mary has been drawn as deep follower of Jesus who got the importance of that moment, and a lazy, aloof person who should be helping her sister.
Let’s be clear the bible affirms the need for hard work and to earn a living. The bible also speaks poorly of those who do not work hard for a living.
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. Proverbs 13:4 ESV
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8 ESV
I believe that this passage is challenging our hyper-busy, results driven, multitasking world. Jesus applauds Mary for sitting at His feet and spending quality time with Jesus. Martha believed this was wrong because there was work to be done around the house that Mary neglected. Yet, the passage describes how Martha was “distracted with much serving.” Jesus was sitting in her house, the God of the universe, and she could not help but dust, cook, and clean. The issue at hand is not hard work, instead I believe its busyness. Martha was so focused on busy work that she was missing time with God.
I believe we are often like Martha. We convince ourselves that our work whether it’s at home, or in an office, is so important that we leave no space to spend time with God, or read scripture; and clearly no space to hear God to lead, to speak into our lives. I have to cut the lawn, read my work email from home 5 times a day, bake cupcakes Martha Stewart would envy for the school bake sale, and more. I believe that’s the indictment of Martha and of each of us. Slow down and take a deep breath. Sometimes certain things are more important than getting four more things off your to do list. Before we can accomplish anything, we need to begin by humbly remembering that we are sinners in need of a savior, we are broken people empowered by a loving God, we are given Hope in a challenging world by a God who died on the cross so that you might have life to the fullest (John 10:10).