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“Few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42
It’s the story that can make every stressed out, overwhelmed woman cringe, especially when we’re elbow deep in Christmas prep. Scripture’s account of two sisters told in Luke chapter ten often reminds us of those things we already know to be true—we’ve taken on too much and our lives—and, if we’re honest, hearts—have titled dangerously out of balance.
I suspect, when we compare ourselves to Martha and Mary, women who one day hosted Jesus and His disciples for dinner, most of us would be forced to admit we resemble the stressed out task-follower much more than the calm and quiet worshiper.
One day these sisters invited Jesus and His disciples for dinner. Meal preparations followed, at least, for Martha. But while she ran around anxiously stirring broth, baking fig cakes, and attending to her guests, her sister sat at Jesus' feet.
Mary stepped away from her expected responsibilities, her duties in the moment, to grab hold of something eternal.
This is normally where messages and blog posts camp out, urging us all to be less like Martha and more like Mary.
To find the freedom that allows us to rest in the moment, we'll need to uncover the root of our behavior and stress.
Most often, we'll find our angst comes from a misplaced identity. This was likely Martha’s issue. In ancient Palestine, women were the hostesses and mothers. Their role was to take care of everyone else and to do so well, and their identity was tied up in that.
Martha fulfilled that role well. She was the hostess who had it all together; the cook who cooked the best stew.
Mary was supposed to serve in the same manner. But knowing what everyone expected of her, she left the kitchen to join the circle of men, as if she had every right to learn from the respected Rabbi as well.
Did eyebrows raise? Did whispers follow?
Scripture doesn’t tell us how the disciples responded, but it clearly reveals Martha’s rather assertive behavior. Confronting the “injustice” of her situation directly, she said to Jesus, “Lord, don't You care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
But when her sister rebuked her, Mary remained sitting.
She focused on staying close to Jesus and trusted Him to deal with everyone else, and He did. Through this, Christ showed them both where their, and our, true identity lies—in Him, not other’s opinions of us.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, speaker, and the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries. She writes for Crosswalk, is the author of eight contemporary novels, and helped write Wholly Loved’s Bible study based on the life of Sarai (Gen. 12-23) titled Becoming His Princess, releasing in the spring/summer of 2019. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall outings with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit her online at jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.
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