My Musings On Mary and Martha

Luke 10:38-42

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.”

As a highly motivated, busy kind of gal, I used to read this verse and feel instant condemnation.

How dare I be so busy?

I am such a loser. I will never be that calm, sweet, quiet gal who sits still for hours at a time…somewhere in a tranquil room, probably an empty closet, and talks to Jesus. I don’t know why I pictured her this way. I mean, who has empty closets anyways? I’d be sitting on old worn shoes or a pile of dirty clothes if I camped out in my closet.

But I thought that Mary, the one who chose “the better part” was surely looking down her nose at this Martha who was busy fussing over the dishes in the sink and making sure to bring homemade cookies to her daughter’s class for treats while cleaning up the mess the puppy just made in the foyer.

Until I realized that this verse is really all about balance and needs to be taken into context with the whole scope of expectation that God has for us as wives and women of God.

I mean, how do I be a help-mate to my husband while I’m sitting quietly on the stinky socks in my closet? Well, truth be told, I can’t be. And if I tried, I don’t think my husband would be all too happy with me no matter how close to Jesus I became.

Balance. God’s Word is filled with balance.

If I read Proverbs 31 without Mary and Martha in mind, I could go off the deep end and start buying up fields and planting vineyards while I supply merchants with sashes, and I’m not even sure what that means. What do they need sashes for anyways?

The story before Mary and Martha is about the Good Samaritan. Two men walked by and piously did nothing. The man who’s praised is the one who took that time to be the hands and feet of love. And HE was the star, not the ones who did nothing.

Martha was apparently TOO busy at the wrong time. Notice the word “distracted.” She was distracted by all that needed to be done instead of focused on the true priority in the room.

I get that. That’s relatable.

For all we know, Mary was tempted to be distracted too. Maybe the lesson here is that she overcame the urge to create an ice-sculpture of Jesus walking on the water. Maybe she wanted to make everything perfect just like Martha but then realized that it was more important to spend time with the Friend she loved than to impress Him with her carving skills.

Work with me ladies, we don’t really know the back story here so I’m winging it.

But I still believe the ultimate lesson here is balance.

Keep your walk with the Lord at the top priority of your life but remember that we’re not in heaven yet. The laundry still needs to get done. So make time for Him, but be careful to get those vineyards planted too.

It’s all about our hearts, girls. Give Him yours, that’s really all He asks.

Sue Cramer

Founder of Praise and Coffee ministry and Magazine. A wife, mom, girlfriend and coffee drinker who loves the Lord.

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  1. What a fabulous reminder. Balance is SUCH an issue with me! And you’re right – so many of us get the Mary and Martha story wrong.
    Good stuff, Sue!

  2. Wow! This is such an eye opener and after reading it I feel relief! I have such a problem with balance that I never really noticed how OFF balance I was. Thank you for this beautiful reminder to prioritize.

  3. I can relate to this message so much! I love things to be ordered and planned and sometimes I just forget to cherish God’s blessings. I keep pondering on John 14:27 and remembering to have peace in my life as a priority.

  4. I write with a group of ladies that focus on us “Martha’s” being more like “Mary” and just sitting at the feet of Jesus. I’ve even been developing a fictional storyline about Martha. Like you said, we really don’t know the backstory…it could have just been a bad day for Martha and a good one for Mary. We all have times that could be better spent, we just lose focus of the important while doing life.

  5. I often think I’m more like Mary than Martha too. But I find it very hard to sit. However, I can pray better moving and seem to feel the Lords presence more when actually speaking to Him.

  6. Well said….think you hit the nail on the head with your thoughts. Thank you. Great insight…



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