“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42)
Where are all my Marthas? Raise your hands. You can’t, you’re in the kitchen up to your elbows in flour. Let me say that I don’t think being a Martha is a bad thing – I am also a Martha, to a certain extent. I mean somebody’s gotta make sure people are fed, right? There is a lot packed into this account, and we can draw many applications from it. I just want to offer one observation today.
I want to look at two words in this story. First is “distracted” from verse 40: “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” The word distracted comes from a root word combination meaning to worry and to draw (as in drawing a sword). Hold that thought.
The other word we want to examine is “upset” in verse 41. This word doubles back to “distracted,” but has a very interesting root: meaning an uproar, riot, commotion, disturbance. Recognize that feeling of being frustrated with a smile on your face? You’re doing the good things and all the while your spirit is in an uproar and there is a riot going on in your head. You are screaming at the top of your lungs on the inside, all the while portraying a calm servant disposition on the outside. I see you nodding your head.
For Martha, this commotion in her heart and head caused her to “draw a sword” against her sister – and if we’re being honest, against Jesus too. Check it out: “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!” She went on the defensive and the Lord called her out on it.
I believe there are two things in particular we can take away from this:
1. Don’t fret about the work that needs to be done – just come for a bit and sit with Jesus. Yes, people need to be fed, so let ’em make sandwiches. Don’t let serving the Lord become a burden or a cause for resentment.
2. If you do chose to serve, don’t get resentful toward those who chose otherwise. Humble servants are happy servants. If you’re serving for a pat on the back, go sit down. If you’re serving out of love and the joy of blessing others – you can stay in the kitchen, but stand near the doorway so you can still listen.
There is work to be done in the Kingdom, but we want to glorify Jesus in it. Resentment leads to internal warfare and stomping our feet and eventually drawing swords. Let’s be humble and gracious in all we do.