Women of the Word | Leading Women, Day 2
There are many ways to serve the Lord but we must always be in submission to Him.
Verse of the Day
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 ESV
What would be the first thing you would do if someone was coming to visit your home?
Have you ever been in charge of celebrating an event for a large group? What is the most difficult part?
When you are feeling anxious, how do you handle it?
Read Luke 10:38
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. Luke 10:38 ESV
Can you imagine opening your door and seeing Jesus standing there before you?
First, let us look at where Jesus came to: Bethany, a small town only a few miles from Jerusalem. Christ often chose the privacy of a small village as opposed to a populated city for his most intimate of conversations.
While Jesus cared for her brother and sister, Martha is the designated hostess for where Jesus stayed. This placed the honor on Martha rather than the culturally accepted male of the house.
Jesus loved this family: Lazarus, Martha, and Mary (John 11:5)
Jesus often invited himself to them just as He invites each of us to Him.
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:23 ESV
Martha opens her home to them - a ragtag team of at least 13 (12 disciples and Jesus) and they all gather within her home.
There is an intimacy that comes from welcoming friends into your home. Sacrifices would have to be made to lodge and feed that many people and Martha welcomes them with open arms, eagerly taking on the task of hostess.
Accepting Jesus into her home didn’t come without danger, being so close to Jerusalem it would not have been a stretch for the Pharisees to have come and persecute the family for accepting Him.
We need to continually check our hearts and make sure that we are open and welcoming to those around us. Letting them know that we care about them and are there to support them.
What ways do you welcome Christ into your hearts?
As the Bride of Christ, we must always be open to the Lord. Learning to open the doors of our hearts is difficult but one that is rich in mercy and grace.
Learning to turn ourselves over to Him is one that requires vigilance and thought.
Jesus comes and knocks at the door to our hearts, seeking to come in and fellowship with you, just as He gathered with Martha’s family in Bethany.
God will richly bless your life when you turn over control to Him.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Luke 9:23-24 ESV
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20 ESV
Read Luke 10:39
And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. Luke 10:39 ESV
Mary, the sister of Martha, comes in and immediately begins to break tradition for the sake of listening to Jesus teach. Sitting amongst the men would have been frowned upon, at the least, and she seemingly does this without a second thought.
Mary knows the value of what Jesus has to speak about and relishes her time spent with Him by giving Him her undivided attention.
We need to take this devotion to heart and remember as James 1:19 reminds us to be quick to hear and slow to speak.
Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, as a disciple or student would. Again, setting aside what was culturally acceptable for the sake of learning from Jesus while He was present with them.
The call to come to Christ is counter cultural as it is equally presented to both men and women.
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Mark 16:15 ESV
What does the culture tell us about sitting still?
Mary is dedicating her time to listening to what Jesus was teaching them about the Kingdom of God. She hungered after His word just as we also need to search the Word (the Bible) and listen to what God is teaching us.
There is value in being still, listening attentively, and concentrating on the words that are being said around you. The discernment required to recognize these moments comes from having one’s priorities in order.
Read Luke 10:40
But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” Luke 10:40 ESV
When have you found yourself working instead of listening?
Martha, on the other hand, is busy attending to the requirement of a hostess. She is serving those who have come into her home by attending to their needs. Her tasks of feeding and entertaining a large group prevent her from sitting at the feet of Jesus.
We find that there were many from Jerusalem that came to console the family when Lazarus dies (John 11:19) and that points to the family being well respected in the community. Martha takes pride in caring for those that come to her home.
We need to be sure that we do not neglect to acknowledge those who care for household affairs. In today’s society, women are still expected to maintain a household while attempting to prove themselves capable of a career.
Martha gets busy taking care of preparing a meal, seeing to it that the men (and Mary) are cared for and she begins to be jealous that Mary is just sitting there and not doing her “womanly” duties of helping her.
As the Bride of Christ, we need to make sure that we do not have our priorities ascue and put worldly things as a higher priority than God.
We also need to evaluate the pressures that we place on women that come from culturally defined gender roles. While Martha had only Mary to help her, God has established that women are to be a helpmate to men and that a man is called to put the needs of his wife before his own.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Genesis 2:18 ESV
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, Ephesians 5:25 ESV
Both women are welcoming Jesus into their presence, what are the different ways we can serve and worship Christ in our lives?
Martha’s actions and Mary’s actions are different but they are both in service to God. Martha’s hostessing is important and allows for Jesus to speak and teach. She is literally providing a roof over his head and there is importance in that line of service.
Martha’s actions were deemed to be less than Mary’s because Martha was allowing for her service to become pridefully intended rather than service through humility.
As the Bride of Christ we need to make sure that our worship includes being in service to others, taking care of their physical needs in addition to their spiritual needs.
Have you ever become jealous of another Christian?
How often do we look at others and judge their actions?
Here we have a real life example of the attitudes found in the story of the Prodigal Son. Martha, as with the older brother in the parable, begins to be offended that her sister is getting “off the hook” for responsibilities that she should have been attending to.
As the Bride of Christ, we are called to hold one another accountable but we are not the judge of our neighbor. We need to remember that people are at different stages in their faith and their walk with God and what may look like laziness to us is actually worship to the Lord.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Matthew 7:1-5 ESV
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Romans 2:1-3 ESV
How often do we set about doing work when we should be sitting with open ears?
Notice that she becomes distracted by much serving. Martha was trying to also listen and be attentive to Jesus’ teaching but her duties of life continued to accrue until she had to step aside and attend to them.
Many times we allow for the duties that we have to become a higher priority in our lives than sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to Him.
Mary appears to be oblivious to the actions of her sister, her full attention on Christ. She sets aside her traditional duties to make room for Christ and give Him the top priority in her life.
Read Luke 10:41
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, Luke 10:41 ESV
Strong's G3309 - merimnaō - me-rem-nä'-o - to be anxious
to be troubled with cares
Strong's G5182 - thorybazō - tho-rü-bä'-zo - disturb, trouble
to be troubled in mind, disquieted
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7 ESV
Jesus turns and instead of rebuking Mary, as Martha desired, He chastises Martha for being worried and bothered by the little things.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:6-11 ESV
This is not a hard chastisement but rather one full of love and compassion, desiring that Martha have a change in her heart and put trust in Him as the Christ.
We need to continually check our hearts that we are Christ-focused in all ways, that our worldly responsibilities do not become a snare and hinder us from serving God.
Read Luke 10:42
but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42 ESV
One thing is necessary - Jesus is pointing out that there is only one thing in life that we need and that is to be faithful unto God. God will provide all that we need when we place Him in the rightful place in our hearts.
Jesus uses the word chosen, which means to pick or choose out for oneself in this situation. Mary, given the choice between offering service or listening has chosen the latter and Christ commends her for her choice.
Jesus is firm in His rebuke of Martha and says that He will not take away Mary’s opportunity to listen to Him.
Notice that at no point in the conversation did Jesus ever rebuke Martha for her service, rather He pointed out that there was a better choice that she could have made but He does not look down on the hospitality and the works that she has done in preparing for them.
Are you willing to put Christ first in your life, even when your duties try to pull you away?
What steps can you take to bring Christ into the center focus of your life?
How can you better evaluate your actions this week and make sure that you are not only worshipping but also serving the Lord?