Enjoy Peace for the Holidays

One Thanksgiving I told a relative how much our son enjoyed going to her house for special occasions. “He probably wouldn’t feel that way if you did more,” she said. Ouch. She was at my house for Thanksgiving. I obviously hadn’t met her expectations.

Jesus’ friends Martha and Mary can teach us a lot about the pitfall of trying to please everyone. Let’s visit the sisters before we lose our peace this season.

We gather together(3) (1)To understand Martha, picture Martha Stewart. Her decorated table matched the occasion, and her foods delighted all the senses. She earned the applause of her culture.

As is often the case with siblings, Mary was her polar opposite. Who cared what they ate or when? She was consumed with Jesus. Mary’s choice to learn from the Rabbi flew in the face of her culture and her sister’s expectations for her.

In our introduction to the sisters, Martha has opened her home to Jesus and His disciples. While she busily prepared a feast for them, Mary listened to Jesus. When the banging of pots and pans didn’t bring Mary in to help her, Martha stormed into the middle of the group and turned on Jesus. “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40 NIV).

Mary froze. This probably wasn’t the first time her sister had publicly corrected her. Dare she look at Jesus? Her cheeks burned to think of Him reprimanding her.

Jesus must have shocked the whole group. Instead of chastising Mary, He corrected Martha and commended Mary.

41 My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42-42 NLT).

He didn’t reprimand Martha for being busy but for being “driven and too busy.”[1] He simplified her focus.

Have you ever let details and pressures rob you of the best? It is easy to be distracted by our to-do lists and miss the reason why we are doing.

What we can learn from Martha:

  • A critical spirit indicates a wrong focus. Need I say more?
  • Martha took her complaint to the right person. When we’re upset, Jesus is the one person who will always tell us the truth. The truth set Martha free. He’ll free us from our bad attitudes and wrong emphases too.
  • We can change. The next time Martha prepared a feast for Jesus, she hummed while she worked (read between the lines, John 12:2-7)! A single focus makes our work a delight.

Jesus loved Mary and Martha. And both of them blessed Him when they served Him with uncluttered hearts. But Mary ministered to Him deeply.

blog 11.15 (1)At the gathering the week before His death, Mary anointed His feet with a pint of expensive nard. The fragrance filled the air and saturated His skin and perhaps the tips of His clothes. Someone said the fragrance probably stayed with Him through His final week—perhaps even to the cross.

Of all of Jesus’ friends and followers, only Mary understood His mission. She believed that He was headed to the cross for her and wanted the fragrance of her love to be with Him in what lay ahead.

And some of His followers criticized her.

What we learn from Mary:

  • We only have to please one. We learn what pleases Him by spending time with Him.
  • Choices that delight Jesus may offend some of His followers. Mary’s sister criticized her on one occasion and Jesus’ disciples on another.
  • Staying tuned into Jesus nurtures us, ministers to others, and blesses Him! Jesus promised that Mary’s act would always be remembered (Mark 14:9).

As we celebrate Thanksgiving and enter the Christmas season, let’s keep our focus. A year from now, no one will remember the details of our holidays, but they will remember our spirits and acts of love.

What helps you stay grounded in the midst of busyness? Click here to comment.

May you enjoy a blessed Thanksgiving,

Debbie W. Wilson


Give Yourself a Break: Discover the Secrets to God’s Rest by Debbie W. Wilson

[1] Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for perispaō (Strong’s 4049)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 16 Nov 2011. <http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm? Strongs=G4049&t=NASB>

Sometimes I link to the following great sites:

#Mondays@Soul Survival, Titus Tuesday, Reflect link up, #TestimonyTuesday, #IntentialTuesday, #TuesTalk, #Tell it to me Tuesdays, #w2wwordfilledwednesday, #Wedded Wednesday, #Women with Intention,  #LivefreeThursday, #WordswithWinter, #Grace and Truth


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  1. Ann

    “Of all of Jesus’ friends and followers, only Mary understood His mission. She believed that He was headed to the cross for her and wanted the fragrance of her love to be with Him in what lay ahead.” Oh Debbie – I never thought about what Mary did quite that way and that is so beautiful and powerful. I admit I am much more like Martha than Mary most of the time – but I’m working on it. Your points are well taken!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Ann, that scene is so moving to me. I think it took great courage and love to pour out her treasure on Jesus with all the onlookers gawking who didn’t understand. And Jesus said her story would be told where ever the gospel is preached! We need Marthas and Marys in this world. We just need to keep the right focus. That can be a struggle for me too.

  2. Melissa

    Staying grounded during the holidays is so important. Life can get so busy with daily activities. Finding time to sit and be still , even for a few minutes, really helps me stay calm and remember the true meaning of the season. 🙂 Thanking God for all His blessings is vital to my day. Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Melissa, I also find being still and quiet for a few moments makes a big difference. Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  3. Pam

    Debbie, you have bought the right illustration and the right words at the right time. This time of year it is so easy to slip into the pressure to perform and get lost in the flurry. Each time that happens, we lose focus because the more we scurry the less satisfied we feel that we have done enough. I think that is exactly because our focus is in the wrong place so we cannot experience His contentment and peace.
    Blessings to you this Thanksgiving!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Pam, you said it well, “the more we scurry the less satisfied we feel.” Thank you, my friend. May you enjoy this season with His peace!

  4. Sandi B

    Thanks for the reminder! Busy few days coming up!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Sandi!

  5. Debbie Prater

    Not everybody is going to like your style or even yourself. The holidays certainly can bring out this ugliness. I have numerous family members coming over this week and to be honest there could be a little tension. I’m going to try to just do my best, make the house nice, and let the chips fly. I know how it can be hurtful, but I don’t want to stir it up either. Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Debbie, it made me feel better to see how Mary was criticized by people she loved and even by those who were among Jesus’ disciples. Those we respect can be out of sync with our Lord, as can we. Calls for lots of grace! I hope you have a most blessed Thanksgiving.

  6. Tanya Register

    A good reminder that we need to be laser-focused on Jesus, especially during these holidays that are often cluttered with busy-ness

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Tanya. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  7. Kelly @RaisingSamuels

    What a beautiful telling of this Biblical story! We can get so consumed in the details of day to day life, instead of putting our focus on Jesus. Awesome post; thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Kelly.

  8. Michele Morin

    I read a great quote about Martha just the other day, to the effect that she was WAAAY more interested in making that meal than anyone else was in eating it.
    Hmmm….how many of the things that I stress about are completely irrelevant to my family — the people that I SAY I’m doing them for?
    Thanks for making us think today about our Martha-ism — and our struggle to find a Mary heart.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Michele, that is so funny and too true! We think we are doing it for them, but… Thanks so much. God bless you this Thanksgiving and always, my friend.

  9. Liz

    Such truth here. Dear Lord, may I be more consumed with you than by what I prepare this holiday! Amen.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Amen, Liz! Thank you for reading.

  10. Mary Geisen

    Beautiful reminder for all of us this Thanksgiving or really anytime of the year. I need the reminder to be Mary in a world that is calling all of us to be Martha. praying we all give the gift of presence this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Mary. “The gift of presence” is precious and one I too often struggle to give. Blessings on your holiday!

  11. Beth

    I want to be a “Mary” this Thanksgiving, Debbie, but the work of the Thanksgiving feast almost always requires the “Martha” in me to stay at the forefront. 😉 So balancing the need to work with the need to sit at Jesus’ feet can be a real and confusing challenge. I will be thinking about how to do that as I go about the preparations, my friend. Your challenge based upon Christ’s challenge to Martha is much-needed at this time of year. Hugs to you, my friend and Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. Debbie Wilson

    Beth, I love how Martha stayed Martha, but she no longer hounded Mary to be like her. I also pray for the balance of working hard but keeping the right focus. Thanks so much for your comments. I always appreciate your thoughts. May God grant us the grace to enjoy our preparations and keep an undivided heart!

  13. Mary-the boondocks blog

    That was so well put Debbie, too often we get caught up in what we are doing and become so focused to the exclusion of what is going on around us. Or we miss the more important

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