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.
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.” 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.
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
 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>
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