Another Side of Mary

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’

‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10:38-42

Just call me Mary; I’m the one who’d rather sit at the feet of Jesus than help in the kitchen. However, this doesn’t mean I’m more spiritual than my sister with the gift of service. I love nothing more than uninterrupted time with God. But I confess I sometimes settle for the scraps rather than the meal Jesus has set for me.

Mary and Martha showed their love for Jesus in different ways. Martha served while Mary sat at his feet, listening. Sure, Martha gave in to her frustrations. But we’ve all done that. Perhaps she would like to have been sitting with Jesus, as well. But someone had to get the food on the table, right? I’m convinced Jesus reproved Martha for her attitude, not her serving.

And yet, we think of Mary as the spiritual sister and Martha, the complaining one. Real people aren’t that narrowly defined, are they? Besides, there’s only one perfect person in the story. Therefore, we can assume Mary had her own challenges. What do you think they were? Do you think she ever resented Martha for interrupting her time with the Lord?

Later, the sisters opened their home again to Jesus and his disciples. Apparently, this time, Martha served with no complaints. But Mary showed her love for Jesus in a most unusual way. In front of everyone, she poured an expensive perfume on his feet and dried them with her hair. (Luke 10:38-42)  

I’m not sure I would have had Mary’s courage to display my devotion in such an unselfish and unaffected way. And I have the Holy Spirit living in me. However, when I’m not filled and led by the Spirit, I’m desperately absorbed with self. I may appear to be devoted to Jesus. But if I’m not careful, I can exalt my time with God more than God Himself. That’s when I display another side of my Mary heart. That’s the side that nailed Him to the cross.

Both sisters inspire me. Martha’s example motivates me to serve more readily and gracefully. And Mary inspires me to do the one thing needed, to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from Him.

How about you? Are you a Mary or a Martha? Are you more apt to show your love for Jesus by serving Him or by sitting at His feet? Perhaps you’re a healthy balance of both. And that’s a good thing, isn’t it?  

4 Responses to “Another Side of Mary”
  1. Am I Mary or Martha? Depends on what day it is. Some days it’s all about the tasks, the check marks. Other days I sincerely just want to continue to study His word instead of doing the work I need to do. But the good news is, even in the midst of my failures, He loves both sides of me!

    • You’re so right, my friend. What we see as failures He sees as opportunities to trust Him. Whether we’re Marys or Marthas, every day is a new day with new challenges. But we also know His mercies are new every morning. Aren’t we glad?
      Love you, Liz

  2. I try to find the balance, but must confess to some pretty strong Martha-leanings. I blame it on being the firstborn 😉

    Thanks, Liz. Can’t wait for your Wednesday post!

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