My friend Vickie and I get together one day a week to lift each other up. We never have a lack of things to talk about and it really doesn't matter where we meet. Back in Temecula when we started our "Tuesdays Together", we met at the Barnes and Noble bookstore after I got off work. We are grateful to continue the special days and meet at various places, but always end up talking on a personal nature and a spiritual one as well.
This week we started out realizing we both have a little OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). To us this means that we get very anxious if our homes are not clean, and our daily lists are not completed, although because of their length it becomes very difficult to ever complete them.
Our discussion went to the scripture story of Mary and Martha, who were two sisters, who were apparently very good friends of Jesus Christ during the time of his ministry here on earth.
I love this picture of the event. You can see the familiarity of the key figures, they seem real, like us. So it is easy to put ourselves into the story as it unfolds in just four short verses in Luke.
Luke 10:38-42, “Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His Word.But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Vickie and I in discussing this scripture story had to realize we had alot of Martha in us. Having had several events that I had to prepare for in my family and in church callings, I can imagine just exactly how Martha felt. Frustrated. We only really hear about Jesus being in the home, but we know Lazarus was Martha and Mary's brother so we can safely assume he was there as well as the Disciples, who were always in the Lord's company during this period. We know Jesus taught, so we can imagine there might have even been more people following.
Can you imagine Martha fulfilling the woman's role in that day of staying in the background and serving. She probably had a great deal to prepare to feed all those visiting, setting the table up, and cleaning to make things perfect. I'm sure much of it was done particularly for Jesus to serve him. I can just picture Martha sending chilling daggers to Mary who just sat at the Saviors feet with no regard to Martha's looks and probable hand signals to assist. It is apparent her level of frustration became overwhelming when she actually approached Jesus asking Him to tell Mary to help. Being the oldest of many brothers and sisters I can see this as not only tattling, but a way to draw attention to herself and her efforts.
Poor Martha, her ploy certainly backfired. Christ did indicate that He was aware of Martha's actions, but He did not praise her. Instead he chastised and rebuked her for being distracted. He indicates that Mary had chosen the correct behavior. She was hearing, learning, and worshiping at His feet.
Hmmmm. As Vickie and I discussed this we became aware that our character includes parts of Martha (the OCDness) and gratefully our spirits are tender and we want to hear and learn from our Savior so we might some day be at His feet ourselves.
I think the world finds itself kind of in a Martha syndrome, we are too worried about appearances. There is no doubt there are things that need to be done. The Lord's house is a house of order, but there is a balance to it. If we get to the point of doing it for the wrong reasons then we have gone overboard. I'm talking in terms of homemaking for two reasons: one, that was Martha's issue, and secondly, that is my issue. But, we can insert any other "works" here. All important, but not to the point that God and Godliness don't exceed them in importance. Martha is a person of action. We can see her action is good works, helping others and that isn't bad. She was serving the Lord and others.
If Christ was in my home I can imagine that my first thoughts might be the dust on the floor, or the fact that I didn't have enough "good" food to serve Him. No, no I'm wrong. I really can't believe those would be my first actions. I will want to fall at His feet and worship Him, thank Him, cry into His lap, or crawl into His lap to be embraced. There is no need to worry about feeding all the neighbors that would gather around, afterall, He can feed thousands with so little. Martha didn't have time to realize that because she was too busy with the niceties.
Do I have to wait until Christ walks into my living room to learn from Martha and Mary? No I can change now. One of my OCD things is my list. I have to write a list every day to get the things from rattling round in my brain continually. The top of my list says Martha and Mary. Under my Martha list are a few things that I need to get done to keep an orderly home. Under my Mary list are things that will draw me closer to God, after all we are told "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." That tells me, if I be a Mary first, then all the Martha things will come too.
I kind of see the Martha things (from my point of view) are those things that might be my "image" concerns. The Mary things would be prayer, scriptures, reading in good books, listening to good music, meditation, contemplation, charity, church callings, being in touch with loved ones. My comfort zone is being busy in my house, so those are the things I always find myself doing first. That means the other things fall second. That is definitely not what the Savior said to Martha, or in so many other areas of the Scriptures.
"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." — Mark 12:30
I am not a scriptorian but I don't recall a 43rd or 45th commandment saying "Thou shalt make your bed every day" or "thy mirrors MUST be free of all fingerprints". So I am going to try, try, try to put aside my OCDness and my Martha-ness in favor of all that I have learned from her.
Wondering what Martha did after Christ rebuked her? We don't really know but maybe we get a hint from the story where her brother Lazarus died. Jesus was coming and Martha ran out to meet Him, to challenge Him because she knew He could do anything. Mary instead was at home probably praying, and waited until Martha returned to tell her Christ was asking for her. I'm sure Martha tried, but still this shows she was a woman of action, who wanted to get things done in her timing. Mary was more contemplative, waiting on a call from her Lord. Mary puts a spiritual response ahead of a physical response.
It is obvious these two women were both very important to Jesus, and they were both good women. But we can learn from them, from their responses, and from the few words the Lord said to them, and to us. We need to try to keep a Mary mindset in a Martha world.