Hosting with priorities
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42
Are you team Martha or team Mary?
Kandie, one of my dearest friends, and I have put together many events. Overall, I would say she is a Martha, and I am a Mary. On the day of the event, as we prepare, I can do all the Martha things with Kandie until the people come. Then, I naturally gravitate to being with them and socializing. Kandie continues her Martha tasks until the event starts and then morphs into her Mary persona, enjoying the socializing and people. I think we are a good mix of Mary and Martha.
Martha has invited Jesus and His disciples to her home. Culturally, Martha is doing precisely what was expected of her. In those days, the opportunity to host a famous teacher like Jesus was an honor. When Jesus accepted her invitation, Martha took her responsibilities as a hostess seriously; she was offering her home in the only way she knew how; meeting every need of her guests.
Culturally, Martha is doing precisely what was expected of her. In those days, the opportunity to host a famous teacher like Jesus was an honor.
On the other hand, Mary was breaching every expectation her community had. She was sitting at the feet of Jesus, a position reserved for the disciples. And she was completely ignoring her hostess duties as she absorbed her Teacher's wisdom. Yet, Jesus tells Martha this is better and won’t be taken from her.
Martha isn’t being rebuked because she wasn’t at Jesus' feet, rather is gently telling her she is fretting and worrying over the wrong things. Her priorities are confused.
My husband and I used to host a Bible study in our homes on Sunday evenings. Sunday afternoon became a time of cleaning, finishing up the Bible study, and often cooking. By the time our friends came, I was exhausted, and I wasn’t enjoying the fellowship with my friends. I was allowing the Lord’s work to take priority over His presence.
Amid Martha's frustration, Jesus teachers her the value of relationships, and we know she learns that lesson when she finds herself in a similar situation when her brother, Lazarus, dies. (John 11:17-30) Mary wants to learn everything she can from her friend, the Teacher, innately knowing she needs to be at His feet, learning. Mary’s priority was right where it should be.
I was allowing the Lord’s work to take priority over His presence.
Martha’s service to Jesus is good, but Jesus helps her to see that Mary’s devotion is better. Perhaps we don't need to choose a team. There is value in service and value in devotion. We just need to heed Jesus’ words and prioritize.
"I may sometimes run with Martha to do what Christ needs of me, but I think I should more frequently sit with Mary to receive from Christ what I need from Him.” Charles Spurgeon