A friend asked me who I identified with more, Mary or Martha?
I don’t know about you but usually, when I hear someone talk about Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42), the focus is on Martha toiling away in the kitchen while her virtuous sister sits at Jesus’ feet. For years I longed to be more like Mary – compelled to do nothing but sit at the feet of my Lord… I’ve even cried out in prayer, “Lord, make me more like Mary!”
Eventually, I realised that this was the wrong prayer. As believers we are called to be more like Him (2 Cor 3:18), not someone else. And, by desiring to be more like Mary, I was denying who God created me to be.
One day, someone pointed out to me that the Lord did not reprimand Martha until after she complained and told Him to do something about it! In other words, it was her attitude he was addressing, not her nature to serve others.
In the preceding passage to Mary and Martha’s story, Jesus agrees with an expert of the law that we are to
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soulLuke 10:27 (NIV)
and with all your strength and with all your mind;
and, Love your neighbour as yourself.
We worship the Lord when we are true to who He created us to be and we acknowledge this best when we express our worship through our native love language. Imagine if, the moment you gave your heart to the Lord, you had to learn a completely new language to communicate with Him because He couldn’t understand your native tongue…
So, what was Mary’s love language? Most likely quality time.
What was Martha’s? Probably acts of service.
On this occasion…
Was Mary loving the Lord with all her heart, soul, strength and mind? Yes.
Was Martha? Not quite… Her intentions were good and she certainly worked fervently, but her mind was distracted by dwelling on how much easier it would be if her sister was helping her – which means her heart wasn’t completely in it.
On love languages…
Granted we don’t all just have one love language, but we usually have a leaning more towards one than another. In fact, Jesus acknowledges our diverse love languages and extravagantly reaches out to us through all five:
- words of affirmation – He calls us brothers amongst many other things.
- acts of service – demonstrated by washing the disciples feet… He is the Servant King!
Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45
- gifts – He is the giver of gifts and all good things.
He gave us the greatest gift of all, salvation.
- quality time – He left his place in Heaven so he could dwell with man on Earth and make provision for us to dwell with Him in eternity
- physical touch – healing, comfort…
So, who do I identify with most?
Martha. I’m like daddy’s little helper who wants to serve the Lord by practically demonstrating my love and devotion. And, like Martha, I am capable of making mistakes… because I don’t always remember to engage ALL my heart, soul, strength AND mind while serving the Lord.
Can I find fulfilment in serving the Lord? Yes. In fact, I get a huge buzz when I am operating in my gifts to serve Him because I know that He is involved and invested in me. He leads, teaches, inspires and empowers me when I serve. Best of all, when I serve Him or others in His Name, I am consciously spending time with Him.
Can I find fulfilment when I sit at His feet and listen? Of course. Spending time together without distractions is essential to developing a healthy relationship.
Is one better than the other? I don’t believe we should compare them.
So, when Jesus says to Martha that Mary had chosen the better way, did he mean it was better to spend time with him by sitting at his feet and listening to him in preference to serving him? I don’t think so. He is omnipresent… and will meet us where our heart is.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.