Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Martha, Martha, Martha...

Sunday morning, our pastor preached on a pretty common Bible story. The story of Mary and Martha. Let me share it with you in case you need a refresher. (Taken from The Voice translation. Italics mean they are words not actually in the Bible, but added for further explanation.)

Jesus continued from there toward Jerusalem  and came to another village. Martha, a resident of that village, welcomed Jesus into her home. Her sister, Mary, went and sat at Jesus' feet, listening to Him teach. Meanwhile, Martha was anxious about all the hospitality arrangements.

Martha: (Interrupting Jesus): Lord, why don't You care that my sister is leaving me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to get over here and help me.

Jesus: Oh Martha, Martha, you are so anxious and concerned about a million details, but really, only one thing matters. Mary has chosen that one thing, and I won't take it away from her.

Luke 10: 38-42

Pastor's sermon caused quite a stir among our congregation members. Which in a way is cool, it's nice to know that people actually think and talk about it instead of just smiling and nodding, saying how wonderful it was, then turning around and forgetting about it two minutes later. It is interesting though, how everyone seems to take Martha's side of the story.

I really like how Pastor taught this story. Lately he's been going on this theme of how we need to focus on "being" instead of "doing." It's not about what we do, but who we are. Where our hearts are. Who/what we're focused on.

We need to stop worrying about "doing" so much. 

He also pointed out that Jesus did not tell Martha what she was doing was bad. It wasn't bad at all! She had guests in the house, and there had to be preparations done. We need to remember that it probably wasn't just Jesus there. It was also his disciples, other followers, Mary, and possibly their brother Lazarus too. There were at least 13 guests in the house and that's a lot of mouths to feed.

However, Jesus pointed out that there was one thing that was the most important. One thing that was better.

"Most of what we choose in life is not bad, but we fail to choose what is better. Jesus is saying to Martha: 'In the process of your being so busy doing all these for me, that you are missing out on the opportunity to spend time with me.'" - Taken from our sermon outline this past Sunday

We get caught up in the busyness of life all of the time. We buy into the lies.

I know I fall into this trap everyday. If I'm not really busy, I must not be accomplishing anything. Being busy = being important. If I'm not busy and working all of the time, then I must be lazy.

At my church, everyone is busy. I don't think I've ever seen such a large mass group of people with such full calendars before. It's exhausting trying to keep up with everyone, and almost impossible to put together a youth group calendar.

Since Sunday, I've had people ask me a lot of questions in Martha's defense. "But what if serving is her love language?" "If there weren't Marthas in the world - nothing would get done!"

They're valid points. If all we did every day was sit around and listen, nothing would get done. We wouldn't eat, get clean, help other people, etc. Work has to happen at some point.

Some people show their love and devotion by serving and helping. It's part of how they're wired. That's a good thing!

I know that I'm not wired to sit still for very long. I love being up and about, interacting with people, going from event to event to event.

But even I have to stop sometimes. Because sometimes we get so caught up in our busy lives, into doing "good" things, serving, etc. that we lose sight of what's really important.

Haven't you ever gotten so caught up in something that by the end, you wonder why you started in the first place?

Haven't you ever started something, but once you got into it, it stopped being fun anymore?

Haven't you ever been so busy helping out at church and volunteering for everything that at some point you stopped and realized you can't even remember the last time you picked up a Bible just because you wanted to read it? Or prayed not because someone asked you to, but because you wanted to?

I think that's what Jesus is getting at. Serving might be Martha's gift. But notice how she's reacting to it. She's complaining! If this was her gift, and if she was using her gift properly, do you think she would be complaining?

Probably not.

She lost sight of what was important.

I remember in college I was always busy. In college you get three options and you only get to pick two. Good grades. Social life. Sleep. I chose good grades and social life. I was always up and about, moving moving moving. I went from class, to class, to class, to work, to rehearsal, to study break, to Bible study, to field work, to my radio show, to voice lessons, and then to top it all off going out to the pub and/or IHOP late every night with my friends. It was exhausting. Sometimes I wonder how I did it.

But then I remember some key things.

Sunday mornings I had Sanctuary 10:10, the outreach service at my feild work church. I rarely dreaded getting up on Sunday morning because I loved going so much.

Sunday nights was Prayer and Praise. We sang our favorite worship songs then prayed with our close friends.

During the week I went to Sileo, a meditative silent worship and prayer service where I could get my focus back.

Another time during the week I would have Bible study and dinner at my proffesor's apartment where he would help me (and other students) focus in on the Word and struggle through some of our own doubts and feelings.

Everyday I had meals and time with my close friends who understood me and helped me through whatever stress was going on that day.

I had time to stop, refocus on what was important, and get back on my feet.

Even now, some of the youth even have expressed that they worry about me during the summer sometimes. I was talking with one girl at camp and she said she was worried about me because even back in June the first day of VBS I was already exhausted, and I still had the rest of VBS, a play, the National Youth Gathering, Camp SonRise, and a mission trip to Alabama to go.

Even when we're doing really good things, we still need to focus on the better thing.

When we lose sight of what's important in life, that's when we become more like Martha in the story. Complaining and wondering why we're doing all of the work and no one is helping.

We need to sit back, refuel, and listen.

Because when we're too busy with serving Jesus, sometimes we lose track of spending time with Jesus.


  1. I always interpreted this story to be more abstract. I feel the lesson Jesus is teaching Martha is that it is not important to "put on airs." People can put on a show to prove how "good" or "religious" they are. But Jesus teaches that it is more important to actually spend time with him and listen rather then "show" your feelings about him.

  2. We are after all human "be"ings, not human "do"ings.

    In a cross-cultural context, people in third-world countries wonder why we have to come to "do" things for them all the time, when they want someone to sit down and "be" with them, talk with them, encourage them, pray with them. I get that and always try to make time for that on a "mission" trip, even if it means my North American travel companions think I am just being lazy.

    I too enjoyed the take on this Bible passage and thought the sermon was great.

  3. Sounds like this was a great sermon. Thank you for sharing- I definitely need to keep this in mind!

  4. I really liked this! I try to fill up my calendar to look like I'm doing something (the comparison trap in social media gets to me) all the time...like doing nothing is bad or something. But it's only when we sit and think and take the time to do nothing that we figure out what we want to do, right?


Share with me your thoughts! They make me smile.