Sometimes when women read the account of Mary and Martha, they assume Jesus was not pleased with Martha. In reality, He loved and valued both sisters; he just wanted them to be in balance. As modern Christian women, we can be in balance too. Simultaneously, we can nurture “Martha” hands and feet that serve Jesus and a “Mary spirit” that sits at His feet to learn.
Know When to Serve and Rest
In Luke 10, Martha didn’t serve Jesus because He asked. She simply did it. Similarly, Mary didn’t sit at Jesus’ feet because He invited her. She did it because her heart was already drawn to listening and contemplation. Both sisters did what they needed to do in that moment.
As with Mary and Martha, our bodies, minds, and hearts will tell us when it’s time to serve and when we should rest. If you’re constantly tired and irritable, it might be that you have too many activities on your plate. If you’re often bored or lonely in your Bible study, it might be time to find outlets for what you’ve learned at Jesus’ feet.
Know When to Mourn and When to Trust
Mary and Martha appear one other time in Scripture, when their brother Lazarus dies. Again, the sisters respond in different ways. Mary quietly goes into mourning; scholars suggest she may have led the entire contingent of mourners. In this account, Martha is the one who goes out to meet Jesus. He asks if she believes He is the resurrection and the life. Martha affirms her faith without obvious mourning.
Jesus encourages us to mourn when we must and to pour out our hearts like Mary did. He wept for Lazarus with everyone else. At times, as with Martha, He invites us to exercise our faith with simple trust. The next time you are in a “Mary or Martha” situation, ask how He wants you to respond.