Read with me the classic story of Mary and Martha and ask yourself who you are more like during Christmas time (verses in italics):
"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him."
Martha often gets a bad wrap. But this verse gives the first insight into why we shouldn’t think too poorly of Martha. She opened her home. She was practicing hospitality which is actually commanded in the New Testament. She was also a servant. But some let their gift of service become a source of irritation for them rather than a gift for others which we will see Martha demonstrate in a couple verses. Do you serve but find you are often irritated with the "burden" of it?....
"She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said."
Imagine Jesus is coming to your house. Kind of a big deal right? The Savior of the world coming to eat at YOUR house?! You would probably appreciate a little help right? Nowimagine your sister comes over and just plops herself down in front of Jesus feet while you are trying to serve and make food for everyone, including Mary!
"But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made." (Let’s pause there). This part of the verse is the main reason I chose this passage. The ESV says: But Martha was distracted with much serving. Anything strike you as peculiar about that? She was distracted with SERVING. Seems like a pretty good thing to be distracted with if you ask me. I would like for you to ponder what distracts you from time with the Lord? What keeps you out of His Word? Are there even some good things you can think of that maybe aren’t the best things? Are there some obviously bad or not beneficial things that distract you that you can easily get rid of? What distracts you during this holiday season? The very season that is supposed to be all about Christ...
This word for distracted is perispao in the greek and it means: to draw around, to draw away, to be driven about mentally, to be over-occupied, too busy, about a thing. I love that definition! Something fascinating about this word too is that this is the only place it is used in the bible! Let’s look at that definition again: to draw around, to draw away, distract to be driven about mentally, to be over-occupied, too busy, about a thing.
Our minds are so full they distract us from God’s true purpose for us. It’s like our thoughts are driving us around distracting us from Him. The last part of the definition is “over occupied and too busy”. That pretty much describes everyone. It takes great intention to not over occupy ourselves or be too busy. Especially now a days. 1 Thess. 4:11 says to "make it our ambition to lead a quiet life and mind our own business"… I have a feeling that if we did make this our ambition our lives would be much less complicated and distracting.
Let’s continue with verse 40. “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!” Not sure I have words for this one. How can you use the word Lord and “tell her” in the same quote? Martha is clearly what we call a Type A personality. Focused and determined and bossy or maybe even controlling. Some may relate to Martha more than others. She seems to be focused more on the physical than the spiritual and she also pictures the opposite of that gentle and quiet spirit. Does your family see you like this during Christmas? Let’s see how the Lord responds in verse 41:
“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.”
This is how the Lord would respond to us as well. I can just picture Him saying to me Katie, Katie you are worried and upset about many things…. During the holidays it seems we become even more worried and upset about MANY things. Jesus probably doesn’t care about most of those things that are distracting us. He is probably calling us away from those things and convicting us to choose the better thing. He says there are a few things needed, indeed only one and that Mary chose what was better. She chose Christ. The question is are we doing that? In the midst of much planning and organizing and hosting and cooking and prepping and crafting and decorating and shopping are we choosing, moment by moment, the better thing? Are we distracted from the world and looking to Christ or are we distracted like Martha and looking to things that draw us away from Christ?
In the midst of holidays it is good for us to remember Col. 3:1-2 which exhorts us to “keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth…”
Practice sitting at the feet of Christ like Mary by setting your minds on things above the temporary things of this earth. When we practice Col. 3:1-2 we are choosing the better thing. We are choosing Christ. In the commotion of this time of year I hope you will remember what I have shared and ask the Lord through out your days if you are being more of a Martha or a Mary.