“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered. “You are worried and upset about many things. But few things are needed. Really, only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better. And it will not be taken away from her.”
~Luke 10:41-42 (NIRV)
Some of you may have noticed that I changed my blog's title from "Be Still" to "The Mary Makeover". My goal for 2017 is to become more like Mary and less like Martha--two sisters . . . friends of Jesus while He walked on this earth. These sisters had a different approach in their pursuit of a relationship with Jesus. In my attempt to be more like Mary by the end of 2017, I am challenging myself to work on improving my existence as a human "be"-ing rather than my status as a human "do"-ing. This will require discipline. I know that a huge war is about to start within because of my deliberate choice to make some changes in my life. These changes are going to be a challenge for me, and probably not understood or accepted by some people in my world. That doesn't matter, because I am choosing "what is better". This year I begin my blog by sharing the words written below. I came across this essay while I was doing research on the differences between living life by Mary's example as opposed to Martha's. I hope you will be encouraged and challenged by the words below as much as I was:
The Martha Syndrome and the Mary
An essay by Akili Kumasi
God used the story(s) of two
well-known women in the Bible, Martha and Mary, to demonstrate the type of
relationship He wants with each of us. The two sisters had contrasting
approaches to their walk with God -- and thus got difference results. Martha was
anxious and un-trusting. Mary got alone with God and worshipped at Jesus' feet.
You might remember that in one story
Jesus was visiting the home of the two sisters when Martha came to Him to
complain about her sister, Mary.
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 only one thing
is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from
her." Luke 10:38-42 NIV
When I read this passage of scripture
I get the image of a house busy with people engaged in numerous conversations
around the house. Martha is running about trying to figure out how everybody is
going to get fed and coordinating the logistics of cooking for all the people.
Somewhere in a secluded corner the
Lord Jesus Christ is calmly teaching a handful of people who are intently
listening to His every word. Mary is sitting at His feet, very content and very
Martha frantically rushes over to
interrupt the intimate gathering. Everyone casually looks up at her as the Lord
easily sets the record straight. Feeling compassion for Martha, He reassuringly
says, “Martha, Martha … you are worried and upset about many things, but only
one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken
away from her." After all, if Jesus could feed the 4,000 (Matthew
15:32-39) and the 5,000 (Matthew 14:14-21), then certainly He could handle
supper for a house full of people.
Sometimes we just forget how big our
God is and we run around with what I call the "Martha Syndrome"
trying to make everything just right when all we need to do is just Trust in
the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In
all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6
Remember, Jesus told us to seek ye
first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be
added unto you. (Matthew 6:33 KJV) That's what Mary did. She sought Jesus
first. This is what I call the "Mary Solution." But Martha was
concerned about what shall we eat? Or, what shall we drink? (Matthew 6:31 KJV)
In another story about Jesus raising
Lazarus from the dead, the two sisters had different reactions to the news that
Jesus was coming to see them after their brother Lazarus had died. There are
many lessons that Jesus prepared us to see in this whole scenario. Herein we
focus on the differences between the two sisters' approaches to Jesus before He
brought Lazarus back to life.
17Then when Jesus came, he found that
he had lain in the grave four days already.
18Now Bethany was nigh unto
Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:
19And many of the Jews came to Martha
and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
20Then Martha, as soon as she heard
that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord,
if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22But I know, that even now,
whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
24Martha saith unto him, I know that
he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25Jesus said unto her, I am the
resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet
shall he live:
26And whosoever liveth and believeth
in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
27She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I
believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the
28And when she had so said, she went
her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and
calleth for thee.
29As soon as she heard that, she
arose quickly, and came unto him.
30Now Jesus was not yet come into the
town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
31The Jews then which were with her
in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily
and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
32Then when Mary was come where Jesus
was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou
hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33When Jesus therefore saw her
weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the
spirit, and was troubled.
34And said, Where have ye laid him?
They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
36Then said the Jews, Behold how he
37And some of them said, Could not
this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man
should not have died?
38Jesus therefore again groaning in
himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39Jesus said, Take ye away the stone.
Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he
stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40Jesus saith unto her, Said I not
unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
John 11:17-40 KJV
Mary Got Alone With God:
In verse 20 we see the first
difference between Martha and Mary when they heard that Jesus was coming.
Martha took off to go find Jesus. The King James Bible (KJV) says Mary sat
still. Others translations say she stayed at home (NIV) or remained sitting in
the house (AMP). Mary had a purpose. The Bible does not say she was crying,
weeping or anxious. She was waiting on Jesus just as she had done when Jesus
visited her home in the earlier example from Luke 10.
We can assume that Mary was preparing
her heart through prayer. Whereas Martha was running around -- the same as she
had done in Luke 10.
Martha was Impatient and Anxious:
In verse 25 and 26 Jesus spoke to
Martha but Martha did not really hear Him (v. 21-22). She was focused on what
she had to say to Him. Martha talked at Jesus not to Him and after she had her
say, she left Him. The consequence was that Martha missed what Jesus was
conveying to her. Do we often do the same ourselves?
Jesus must have asked Martha for Mary
because when Martha got back to the house she told Mary that The Master is
come, and calleth for thee (v. 28).
Where are We When God Calls?
Mary then went to see Jesus - at the
right time. She went when He called her, once He is come (v. 28) or had come.
She went without delay. She went when she was properly prepared because she had
been praying and waiting. This is also part of the "Mary Solution,"
sitting and waiting on Jesus, preparing our hearts and responding appropriately
when He calls.
As Mary sat still in her house, the
Jews who were there might have thought that Mary was focused on death, sorrow,
weeping, and despair (v. 31). But Mary was focused on Jesus. Had she been
focused solely on her brother Lazarus' death, she might have been full of
unbelief and would not have been prepared to meet with Jesus.
Mary met Jesus in the same place as
Martha (v. 30). She said the same thing as Martha (v. 21 and v. 32),
"Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." But Mary,
unlike Martha, worshipped at His feet (v. 31) and consequently Mary got a
different response. The difference was in their preparation and consequently in
their approaches as well. Where we are and how we approach God makes a
Both Mary and Martha were believers
in the one true God. But, their walk was not the same. Mary was focused on the Saviour
because she had gotten quiet and alone with Him. Mary met Jesus in the same
place as she did when Jesus was in her home in Luke 10, at His feet! Therefore,
Jesus was moved. He groaned in the spirit and was troubled (v. 33).
On the other hand, Martha had not
spent the time in God's presence. Martha, just as in Luke 10 was overcome by
her feelings. Her faith was not at a high level.
Our unbelief can block God's miracles
in our lives. Even when Jesus was ready to raise Lazarus from the dead, Martha
was filled with unbelief. She saw death. She said to Jesus, " ... Lord, by
this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days." This was the
equivalent to Martha asking Jesus, "Why would you bother to open his
grave. He's dead. He stinks. Why go there, Lord?" Martha was not ready to
see the glory of God. She was not ready for God's miracle in her life.
But, again Jesus lovingly corrects
the situation just as in Luke 10, when He says, "if thou wouldest believe,
thou shouldest see the glory of God" (v. 40).
Seven Points for Seeing God Move in
1. Wait on God by conditioning your
heart (v20) through
· Prayer and
· Meditation on His Word
2. Wait on God's Call (v28)
· God called Mary
· Unlike Martha who went ahead on her
3. Wait for God's Timing (v28)
· God decided when Mary should come
· In the meantime she was preparing
4. Listen for God's Call (v25-27,
· God speaks to us personally
5. Don't delay when God Calls (v29)
· Move immediately
· By being prepared
6. Keep Focus on Him (v31) --
· Not the problem, the situation or
7. Worship Him at His Feet (v32)
Are you a Mary or Are You a Martha
... in your life with God?