Do you remember the biblical account of Mary and Martha? They were two sisters and dear friends of Jesus. Once when Jesus was passing through their town, Martha welcomed Him and His followers into their home. Most of us women know that that simple sentence "Martha received and welcomed them into her home", involves and encompasses many tasks! Received and welcomed are the basics of hospitality. We all want to be hospitable! But then the needs of guests quickly turn into work...hard work! Cooking, cleaning, making them comfortable, serving food, filling drinks, etc. can quickly become a challenge. Then to top it off...there sits her sister Mary, at the feet of Jesus, "doing" nothing! Most of us can relate to Martha's complete meltdown at this point when she exclaims to Jesus "Lord, is it nothing to You that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me!"
This week I learned a little more about this passage that really hit home with me. Here are a few different translations to Martha's issue:
- But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving...Amplified Bible
- But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen...The Message
- Martha was worried about all that had to be done. Contemporary English Version
- But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, ... Holman Christian Standard Bible
The word "distracted" is translated as "pulled in many different directions". The many details Martha was attending to, caused her to be distracted. She lost her focus (receiving and welcoming) and got distracted, then reached her boilng point.
I can surely relate to distraction! With the many tasks of a home and daily life, often my focus wants to be on the Lord, but there is always laundry, dishes to be washed, family to care for, sports practices to get kids to, school work to stay on top of, church commitments, which must be completed and that is before attempting to reach out to others. When I begin to think about what needs to be done and the things I want to do, my mind goes in many different directions and I get distracted. My focus shifts and I become overwhelmed. Eventually, my boiling point comes and I blow!
Jesus tenderly explained to Martha that there was only one thing completely necessary and that was what Mary was doing. Mary's 'listening' is translated as "continual listening". Jesus did not tell Martha that serving others was wrong, He simply wanted Martha to put first what should be first and put second what should be second.
In our life and home, we can put the first thing first by doing the 'continual listening' to the Lord as we do the tasks our day demands. By spending time with the Lord, we are filled and equipped. We are commanded to "Love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and then love your neighbor as yourself". (Matthew 22:37-39) When we put Him first in our life, we will desire to love others. When we 'seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)
As we keep our homes, may we combine the best traits of Mary and Martha - getting things done, while keeping our hearts continually listening to the Lord. May we keep distractions at bay by filling our hearts each day with God's Word and keeping our focus on Him throughout the day. May we strive to keep our hearts full of the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control..., always being ready to ask the Lord for a more abundant supply. Let's love Him, then love others. That will make our lives and home sing a beautiful song!