Have you ever identified yourself as a Mary or a Martha?
Yes, I’m talking about the story in Luke 10:38-42, where Jesus visits Martha’s house.
In case you need a refresher, here it is.
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.
Frankly, I’ve always identified with Martha. My to-do list just doesn’t leave enough time to sit still for very long, certainly not if there’s obvious work to be done. I wonder, could it be that I feel worthless, not enough, if I’m not accomplishing, doing, making progress somehow?
Yet Jesus clearly applauded Mary’s choice to sit at His feet.
Jesus called Martha “careful and troubled about many things.” Not only was her body in constant motion, but her soul was disturbed. Can you identify? Yes, Martha, I’m right there with you.
Do you ever crave a bit of soul rest, stillness before God? I think that can be answered by setting aside our service for a bit, and worshiping at Jesus’ feet.
Since Mary understood this, let’s see what we can learn from her in this area. Maybe I can cultivate some Mary in my own heart.
1. Mary made a conscious choice to worship. In verse 42, Jesus said, “…Mary hath chosen that good part…” I don’t know if people have always been as busy as we are – or at least as busy as we make ourselves – but we certainly have to make the choice to worship if we are going to do it. It’s rare that we sit down and think, “Oh, I have twenty minutes free, let me worship.” If we’re going to worship God on a regular basis, we need to schedule it. There may be times it just happens – I’ve been riding in my car and gotten caught up in a song I’m listening to, and it leads me straight to worship – but that’s certainly not often enough. I must choose to include time for worship in my day.
2. Mary was willing to set aside service to worship. I think we’d all agree that there is a time for service. Certainly Martha was doing her best to serve the guests in her home. And I am certain that on most occasions, Mary was right there working alongside Martha. But Jesus said that in that moment, spending time with Him was the needful part. It’s easy to get wrapped up in service, what I with my own two hands and my hard work can do. If we’re worshiping, it’s all about being still – at least in our soul – which means being quiet and focusing on God. I need the times of worship, so that I can have strength for the times of service.
3. Mary’s worship was about Jesus, not about her. Verse 39 says that Mary was sitting at Jesus feet. She wasn’t in a place of prominence or seeking attention from the others that were present. If we’re not careful, we can use service to seek our own glory. We want others to recognize all that we’re doing, to applaud us for our sacrifice in serving. And while God knows our intentions – and our service certainly can be all about Him – true worship from a sincere heart, is only about God. It’s about praising Him for who He is and what He’s done.
I tried to think of a few practical ways we can worship God.
- Pray a Psalm back to God. Here’s one of my favorites to use for that purpose.
- Read/sing/listen to a favorite hymn that focuses on praise to God.
- Take a set amount of time and meditate on one verse that describes God’s character.
I didn’t intend to write a series on lessons I’m learning from women in the Bible, but that’s what it’s turned into! I have a few other posts along these lines in the works, but here are the first three in case you missed them.
What Ruth Teaches Me About Trusting God
What Mary Teaches Me About Praising God
What Eve Teaches Me About Doubting God
I’d love to know what other ideas you have for ways we can worship God!
I tend to identify more with Martha, too, and sometimes I have to schedule some downtime. 🙂 That's one reason my word for this year is "joy" so that I will listen to more hymns and do other things like that which increase my Mary — as you put it. 🙂
I'm enjoying your impromptu series on women in the Bible. How are you coming up with them? Are you going through a book, or do the lessons just come to you?
Tracey Brewer says
So far, they just come to me 🙂 I was talking to my husband about it after I'd done the first couple of women. He suggested a certain woman, and within the next few minutes, I'd come up with several more. I guess he inspired me! 🙂
Ruthie Gray says
Tracey, I've been working on slowing wayyyy down in this new year. And this very passage just keeps coming to mind. What is really most important is time with Him – no matter how much is on our to-do list!
Such a good word, friend! Sharing on Pinterest!
Tracey Brewer says
Yes, spending time with God is the most important part of our day – and where we get the strength and wisdom to accomplish what's on our to-do list! I think that devotional time also allows us to focus on the key things for the day ahead, and where we might need to rearrange our list or priorities.
Thanks for taking the time to comment and share the post! Have a great day!!
I used to be all Martha, but I've definitely actively purposed to turn into a Mary! 🙂