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Mary & Martha

by Bethany Wouters, Senior Editor

Have you ever become so busy about the work of the Lord that you forgot the Lord?

Here at Murrieta Hot Springs Christian Conference Center there’s always something going on — conferences, retreats, outreaches, meetings about all of the above, meetings about meetings, and more. On top of that, there are church obligations — youth group, worship practice, college group,  women’s group, ministry meetings, worship outreaches, and Sunday morning service. It seems like our schedules are so jam-packed with good things that God has called us to do that we assume our relationship with the Lord must be doing just fine. We’re not slacking on our responsibilities, so we should be okay, right?


If we are allowing our ministry to replace spending intimate time in our relationship with God, then we are doing something wrong.

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Martha was actively preparing her house for Jesus, making sure everything was perfect for her Lord. Not only that, there was a great multitude that rolled up to her house with Him! You can imagine Martha seeing this group of upwards of 70 people and immediately scrambling to make sure her house was in order. That, in itself, isn’t wrong. We should be eager to serve the Lord, like Martha. The problem was that she neglected Jesus Himself–she took her eyes off Jesus. Martha became embittered by her sister’s lack of action and even commanded Him, “Tell her to help me, Jesus! Don’t you see how hard I’m working for you?! Get Mary to stop sitting around and work with me!” Martha is thinking the way to show Jesus how much she loves Him, how much she cares about Him, is by serving Him. While serving Christ is imperative in our Christian walk, if it distracts us from Jesus, we are only hurting ourselves.

How often do we find ourselves in the same sort of situation, where we’re running around working hard for the Lord when He tries to speak to us, and we respond, “Just one sec, Jesus. Let me finish this job I’m doing for You before You say anything.” We’re so distracted with the work we’re doing for God that we neglect Him altogether.

Mary had the right idea. Jesus was there at her house, so she sat with Him and listened to what He had to say. However, when we read the text, it says, “…Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” We tend to overlook that one, small word: also. This word “also” shows us that Mary actually was, at one point, serving alongside her sister. It wasn’t like she was lounging on the floor while her sister did all the grunt work. Instead, she knew when it was time to serve and when it was time to stop and listen to the words of her Master.

It is so easy to fall in the trap of busyness, thinking that if we’re serving God, He’ll be pleased with us. It is not necessarily that we think our works can save us, because they can’t, but rather our contribution in ministry is equivalent to having personal, one-on-one time with Christ.

But it’s not.

While our work done unto the Lord is a form of worship, it cannot supplement having “quiet time” with God. It’s so crucial that we meet with the Lord on a daily basis, by reading His Word and spending time in prayer, sitting at His feet and listening to what He wants to say to us. It is our job to schedule our days around intimate time with Him. If we need to get up earlier to spend even just a few minutes alone with Christ, then we should be setting our alarms a half-hour before we usually wake. If that means using our lunch break to read the Bible and pray instead of socializing with friends, then we should be finding a quiet place to retreat. Whatever needs to be done to meet with God should be done.

May we never become so consumed with ministering that we forsake our Minister.

If there is one thing we can take away from this story, it is to keep your eyes on Jesus. We may hear that often, but it is absolutely true. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, He will show us how to be the type of Christian that knows when to work and when to sit at His feet, like Mary. It is my prayer that we all learn the balance of serving and rest.

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