Wednesday nights, I’ve been going to a bible study, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver.
Now, I once would have told you that I didn’t have ‘Martha’ bone in my body because I can walk away from services that need done. A sink full of dirty dishes or stepping over dust bunnies doesn’t make me cringe. The bed being unmade doesn’t make me flinch. Too many women in the kitchen, and I’m out of there! If a party is being planned and everyone wants to voice an opinion, I’ll just wait for someone to tell me what they want me to contribute. In other words, I don’t mind not being in charge. Okay, if I’m the only one there, then I’ll take on the job, but I’m not THAT person that has to spill out all the commands.
I’d rather sit in the sunshine, stop and admire flowers and take pictures of the beauty surrounding me. I’m distracted by birds and frequently a couch or a hammock beckons me to enjoy a leisurely afternoon. I’ve even used a top of a picnic table to bask in the sunshine.
So, it’s easy to see why I never thought I was a ‘Martha,’ but more a ‘Mary.’ However, I’m barely in chapter five, and I’m looking at the two women with new eyes. Yes, Martha was THE one that hurried around moving from task to task like a busy bee and then complained that her sister was merely sitting at the feet of Jesus taking in his words.
I’m not sure if she snagged Jesus and pulled him aside to complain about her sister to him privately or if she boldly proclaimed it in front of Mary, but I can imagine how Mary might have felt being at the receiving end of the complaint. This was her sister who loved her, yet berated her to a person she admired. I’m speculating, but I believe Mary was an optimistic person who saw the good in people. Did her lip tremble at the criticism of Martha? Did her spirit sigh at listening to Jesus’ reply?
Martha felt under appreciated and struck out in her frustration. Her complaint was judgmental and she wanted someone to acknowledge her feelings even if she had to throw her own sister under the bus, so to speak. I do share that trait with Martha, the judgmental person. That’s the ugly part of being on the outside looking in. Martha felt like an outsider and left out of all the fellowship going on in her home while Mary happily wandered in and listened…at the feet of Jesus, no less.
Once, I’d never have agreed that I had a Martha connection, but I do; being critical. I have a hard time turning that faucet of myself off also. I am an optimistic person and whenever another person comes up with a negative, I’ll often try to come up with a positive for a situation. However, I’m quick to judge people I don’t know very well. Judgement starts in the mind, but comes out through the tongue and body language.
Yes, my tongue has gotten the better of me; quick-witted jokes or sarcasm ~but, I’ve cut that one down quite a bit~ I’ve matured in my faith. I am seeing improvement!
Language can be either unpleasant or lovely depending on our thoughts how we let those thoughts slip off our tongue and out of our mouth. Of course self-control is a mighty force and comes when we practice letting go of those things that keep us connected too tightly to this world.
Self-control is the last in the list of those beautiful fruits of the spirit. Most likely the hardest one to obtain without the other seven. Love…easy for people we like, but what about the ones that we find hard to love? Peace…I think that’s the easiest for me. Patience…Well, it helps if I’ve had a good night of rest! (Smiling) I don’t question God’s working in my life. I do question some of my reactions to it! Kindness…I think is tied to love and patience. Definitely a work in progress for me. I’m sure no one hits the pinnacle on that one. Goodness…Mostly what I witness in other people, not myself. These are so looped together! Faith…Always room for maturity. Gentleness….Not my greatest strength, but I’m improving. That one is so tied with patience and kindness. Whoa! Self-control binds them together in a beautiful package complete with a bow.
Those traits…love, kindness, goodness, and gentleness…These are the ones that we want others to show to us, but it’s harder to whip up the effort to show them to people when the busyness of life takes over. It’s so much easier to put off helping others. The golden rule. Matthew 7:12 Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them-This is the Law and the Prophets.
I know some people who do the ‘kindness and goodness’ so well and I’d like to emulate them. Those two fruits don’t come easily for me. I usually just want to tell people get on with life and don’t whine about situations… which is not good, kind, or gentle.
It’s hard not to be judgmental to people that we don’t connect with or critical of people we know inside and out like family or long known acquaintances. We keep a mental list of all the history that has gone before and it taints our reactions.
I wonder if Mary and Martha ever forgot that day? I bet not. I hope Martha joined Mary and both sat listening to Jesus. Later maybe both worked to finish preparing whatever needed to be done.
Re-reading about Martha and Mary, not only in Luke 10: 38-42, but in John 12: 1-8 , Martha, once again, serves Jesus dinner and Mary is at his feet, as she was before. This time she lovingly bathes His feet with precious oil and wipes them with her hair. Once again her actions are questioned, but this time by Judas Iscariot. Jesus, once more, defends her deed as being appropriate in showing her devotion to who He is. She isn’t concerened about the cost of the oil, but showing Him her love and dedication to give Him her best.
In between those two meetings, he raised their dear brother, Lazarus,from the dead. The reactions of the two different sisters before his resurrection seems to mirror their personalities. Martha didn’t wait to see Jesus, but rushed out to meet him. Mary grieved in the house, waiting. Maybe Mary was in prayer. It isn’t recorded as such, but I believe that she was looking for inner peace. Martha told her to come and see Jesus and she came bringing a group with her. Did you notice that this time she falls at the feet of Jesus also? Mary always meets Him with reverence. Martha once again questions if he really wants to open the tomb because of the smell.
I know that she believed He was the Messiah, the Son of God because of her words to Him. However, knowing that she still questioned His command. How many times do we do the same? How joyful they must have felt seeing Lazarus come out of that tomb!
Oh my goodness, I’m more Martha than I care to admit. I don’t openly question God, but with my reactions I show my reluctance to believe that He will take care of me even when I know that He loves me and knows my story. “God, I’m afraid that if I let go of the reins of my life that it may fall apart!”
I wonder if I will ever get to the place where I become a Mary and fall at the feet of Jesus every time I know he’s near. I just need to keep reminding myself that he’s always near. Working on those beautiful fruits of the spirit also!
Martha, Martha, Martha……
And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard you hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 (HCSB)