Are You Mary or Martha?


The Bible story about Jesus' friends Mary and Martha has taken on new meaning for me these past few months.
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To be honest, I was always on Martha's side. I understood her: working her fingers off, trying to make everything nice, doing what needed to be done because nobody else was doing it.
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I thought Jesus was being a little insensitive when he praised Mary instead--for just sitting there! I can see Martha's hands on her hips, her forehead gleaming with sweat, her chest heaving with exertion from juggling bread dough, boiling pots, and a clunky oven all afternoon. I can see her lips tighten as she, for the first time, questions her dear friend's judgement.
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For the past 30 years, I have been Martha. "Just tell me what to do, Lord, and I'm there. I'll stick with it until they peel my rotting corpse off the job! I'll stay the course if it kills me!"
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And it almost did.
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Several months ago, the Lord finally got through to me. He jerked me out of the kitchen and sat me at his feet, where all the strength is. I just didn't know it.
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At first, I tried to protest. "There's so much to do. I'm wasting time just praising you, listening, reading...I should be..."
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"No," he would say. "This is the better way. I need you to be Mary for a while."
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Now I get it. He was right all along. He wasn't scolding Martha. He just saw right into her heart and knew there was no joy in her. She was doing everything right, serving, working, obeying. But she had no strength because she hadn't spent enough time at Jesus' feet. She was about to poop out if she didn't figure out where the real strength came from.
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What about you? Are you a Martha, too? Are you caught up in believing that what you do matters more than who you are inside? Has it become natural for you to ignore your own spiritual dryness as long as you're performing accurately? If you're keeping all the balls in the air, accomplishing good things for God, your family, your community, then isn't that what matters? Isn't that what we're called to do?
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Ask Jesus. He didn't think so.
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Sometimes we don't even realize we're operating under our own steam. It takes Jesus jerking us out of the kitchen before we understand how much we needed it.
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If Jesus came for dinner at your house, would you be in the kitchen preparing a banquet? Or would you serve him nice leftovers and spend every minute you could at his feet, basking in his glory, learning his heart?
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I think he prefers leftovers.
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