The Bible tells us of two sisters, Mary and Martha. Mary, we have met before. She’s the sister who got into trouble, made bad choices, and had faced the consequences of them. Her reputation had suffered, and she was judged by others for her lifestyle choices. By all except one. Jesus. When she encountered Jesus her life changed. She saw that she was precious despite her mistakes. She learned redemption, forgiveness, and the meaning of love. Perhaps you know a Mary. Perhaps the Mary is you.
Although these sisters had their differences, one way they favored was their love of Jesus. I mean, to know Him was to love Him. After meeting Jesus and being enlightened to His truth, you were never the same. Mary was definitely never the same!!! But neither was Martha.
A popular retelling of the Bible, concerning Mary and Martha, shares an evening they spent with Him as a guest in their home. Consider it a party, and the guest of honor was Jesus Himself! This Bible story is especially popular in Women Group circles. I mean, no one wants to be a Martha!
In fact, you feel terrible guilt for being a Martha. There Jesus is in the very presence of these two sisters. He’s going to die soon! And He’s even told them all His time is near. Yet only one sister sits at His feet to glean from His charming conversation. The other is too busy baking bread or something. Come on?! Didn’t she know how sluggish carbs make you feel?
Ok, joking. Kinda. But seriously? Every woman has heard how she needs to not busy herself with menial tasks like Martha, but instead, sit still at the feet of Jesus. The problem is that we women are really excellent at all the tasks. Like, we are task masters. We are multitaskers. We are killing this multitask thing! Oh dear! I’m guilty of being a Martha! Pack your bags. We’re going on a guilt trip!
Here’s the thing, though. I was recently reading a book that opened my eyes to something I had never thought of before. And as I thought about it more and more I realized something. Jesus was incredibly fond of Martha!
We only think of Mary. And yes, Mary was blessed by her stillness. She was blessed to sit at the feet of Jesus. He loved her deeply! And when He tells Martha that what Mary is doing is important, to lay off her already, we figure Jesus must be saying that being a Mary is where’s it at. We imagine Jesus being angry when He said this, but I imagine He gave a gentle smirk in her direction as He spoke. Consider this.
Martha adored Jesus. Just as much as Mary! But the Father creates us all differently. We go through different things in our lives, and the world shapes us in different ways. Mary showed her love by sitting at His feet. But Martha showed hers by serving.
To serve Jesus was how Martha said, “I love you!” It was her way of showing adoration. She probably swept that dirty floor ten times over before Jesus arrived. I can just see her turning a vase of flowers so the light of the sunset would hit them just right as it came through the window. I can imagine her tasting the food, again and again, desiring it to be perfect for her Savior and King. This was Martha’s way.
Now the problem with Martha was she thought to serve was everyone’s love language, that it was everyone’s way. She couldn’t understand why her sister wasn’t more willing to love Jesus by carrying trays like she did! Jesus let her know that Mary was giving Him honor in her own way. A wonderful way. But I realized this week that Martha’s way was no less like I had assumed before.
Maybe you’re a Martha. Perhaps you serve in the church choir, tend the nursery, and are in the church pew each time the doors are open! You host Bible studies in your home, lead a ladies’ group, and get your name on the list first of casseroles to take to a grieving family. That is wonderful! You serve Jesus in love. Be proud of that. But don’t assume that the Mary who listens quietly to the sermon and never raises her hand to volunteer loves Him any less. She is being still at His feet. That is her way.
The Father created a wonderful thing in women. We are wonderful at tasks, and amazing at serving. We’re the hostess with the mostest. Some of us, anyway, and the Martha’s out there should never feel guilty for walking in the gift they have been given. The gift of a servant heart.
But just as important, the Mary’s out there shouldn’t feel like they are less among women when they don’t have the gift of leading, organizing events, or hosting in their home. Some of us are simply more comfortable resting at His feet. We allow our sisters to serve, and we appreciate them. Our gift is insight at His feet. It’s a gift we give back to anyone who takes the time to speak to us about our first love. Jesus.
Are you a Mary? Maybe you’re a Martha. Perhaps you’re a mix of both. That sounds good! Whichever gifting emerges to the forefront in your life, the important thing to remember is this. Jesus loved both sisters! Although different, they were both precious in His sight!