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Balancing the Mary and Martha in You

No one would argue that women are some of the most complex beings on planet Earth.  We are intelligent, loving, compassionate, busy, multi-taskers and fierce protectors of those we love.  We are also just plain fun to be around. 

However, when we have responsibilities and things that we must accomplish, either help or get out of our way!  Women have dual natures which are illustrated in the story of the sisters, Mary and Martha, who were entertaining Jesus and the disciples in their home in John 10:39-42.   

Martha spent the entire day working to prepare the meal – taking care of the needs of her guests.  She made sure that everything was done, from setting the table, to preparing the meal and maybe even selecting the choice meat from their family’s flock.  At some point, it occurs to Martha that she has been working alone.  Where is Mary?  She is not helping me.  She is over there sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to his stories – just like one of his disciples.  Martha is outraged and looks to Jesus to support her.  Martha 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!”  

Jesus’ reply is probably surprising to both Martha and Mary.  

“Martha, Martha, 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.” 

In her mind, Martha probably still thought, “What about me?  If I stop to sit and listen, you will not be eating today!”  Admit it, you had a similar thought at times.  “If I don’t do it, it will not get done!”  Is that statement totally true or an excuse we use to justify the decisions we make?  Since Eve was caught disobeying God in the garden, we have been blaming others and justifying our actions.  Our fleshly nature can always find an excuse when we are challenged or even when we do not like the answer we get.     

Martha was probably preparing one of her best meals for Jesus – the Messiah; unfortunately, her decisions caused her to miss out on an opportunity to spend time with Jesus.  We know from the Bible that these sisters recognized Jesus as the son of God who has come into the world, in John 11.  Yet, Martha’s routine prevented her from spending time with Jesus as she worked hard to give him her best meal.  Do not misunderstand me, we should operate in excellence, but when we do, we must consider what we may lose. 

Sisters, too often, we multi-task to meet our “perceived needs” for everyone in our life, and to meet them – according to our standard of delivery.  When we fall into our regular habits, we do not have time for anything else.  We repeatedly fail to start out with, take time for or even end our day enjoying God’s presence in our lives.  We may never be rid of our responsibilities to others, but our responsibilities should not prevent us from fulfilling our responsibility to our God and ourselves too!   

Jesus asked God to send us the Holy Spirit who serves as “Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor–Counselor, Strengthener, Standby”.  John 14:26 (Amplified) If we allow the Holy Spirit, He will nudge us along in the right direction as we lay out our plans for the day.  Start your day in God’s presence for at least a few minutes – praying, reading the Bible, praising and worshipping him with a praise or worship song playing in the background.  Also, keep a journal and pen nearby and allow God to show you what you should focus on that day.   

When we start out the day with the many chores we must accomplish at home or the tasks required for work, at the end of the day, we may be too tired to spend time with God.  Have you ever tried to pray or read your Bible accompanied by worship music in the background, after a long day?  What happened?  If you are like me, you fell asleep.  The next morning when you awake, you realized that once again, you missed out on an opportunity to spend time in the presence of our Lord. 

Jesus himself told us in Matthew 6:33, 

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  

This statement is really quite clear and easy to understand.  When we put God first, He has promised to take care of the rest.  Next time I feel like Martha and I know the Lord, Jesus is stopping by, I will either choose a simpler meal or one that allows me to prepare it in the same room, so I can hear the wisdom that Jesus is sharing.   

When we plan for both circumstances – feeding my guests a good meal and spending time with them, I can balance my Martha and Mary twin personalities and not miss my opportunity to be in God’s presence.   

Allow me to edit the script from John 10.   

“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”  “Mary said, “Martha, will you join me at the feet of Jesus?  Together, we can finish that up later.” 

BY PATRICIA HARRIS