Luke 10:40-42 (NIV) 40But 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!” 41“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
There was a family of two sisters and a brother that lived in Bethany, just two miles from Jerusalem. The gospels tell us of a number of times in which Jesus stayed there. John said that Jesus loved these three (John 11:5). This passage is introduced with a statement that this is Martha’s home. She felt the responsibility to entertain and provide the meal, but she wasn’t getting any help from her sister, Mary. Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His words. Martha asked Jesus to intervene and tell Mary to give her a hand. “Lord, don’t you care?”
Things often seem clear from our human perspective. “I’m doing ALL the work!” Doesn’t anyone care? Doesn’t God care? If we forget that service is a privilege, we’ll have the wrong attitude. If Martha understood the blessing of service and the idea that Jesus was serving them at that moment, she may not have felt the need to insist on help.
There is a cultural perspective we should consider in this story. Women were not usually allowed to be in on a men’s group discussion or teaching session. The culture expected Mary to be in the kitchen. Jesus doesn’t yield to the culture of the world. He pointed out that Mary had chosen a good thing. He wasn’t going to take that from her for culture’s sake, or for Martha’s misconception of the need to have a meal done at a certain time. There is a time for service, and a time to receive the service of another. There is a time to work, and a time to listen. Find the joy of the LORD in each. Don’t look down on another who is not in sync with your current call. When we get to John 11, we will see Martha as the one who shines brightest, expressing her faith in Jesus.
Remember: If you want to take time at Jesus’ feet, you have chosen the good thing that will not be taken from you.
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