Lessons Learned From Martha and Mary

Posted on January 25, 2019

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By David Ettinger

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 few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Profound Disappointment
Martha’s disappointment was profound. She worked furiously to make Jesus’ visit as comfortable for both He and her guests as possible. And yet, Jesus told her that her sister Mary, who “only” sat at Jesus’ feet and listened, did better than she. This was difficult for Martha to hear – and so disappointing!

What about you? Are you disappointed? Have you put your faith in Jesus, worked hard to serve Him, but don’t feel appreciated or that your work for Him is in vain? Such thoughts are common when you lose the focus of your service – Jesus. Yes, your good works are for the benefit of people, but your motivation comes from a desire to serve God.

This is the key to you overcoming and triumphing over any disappointment that comes your way. Strive to know Jesus on a far deeper level. Make this the absolute goal of your life, and disappointment will disappear.

A Deeper Relationship
The apostle Paul was consumed with getting to know Jesus as deeply as humanly possible. He wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:9-10). This is radical and life-transforming thinking! Paul is expressing an almost transcendent desire to know Christ, a knowledge that defies normal human comprehension.

This is where Martha fell short, but where Mary got it right. Yes, Martha most certainly loved Jesus and worked diligently to serve Him, but most of what she did was on the exterior – the work of the flesh. Mary, on the other hand, sought to know Jesus on a deeper level. She sat at His feet as He spoke. He had come to Martha’s house to share vital truths about Himself, eternal life, and redemption. It was more important that His words be heard than His audience be served.

If you have been disappointed despite your good works for Christ, take your eyes off of people and put all of your hope in Christ. He is the One who can uplift you and give you a sense of worth and expectation. Paul writes, “Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5).

A Reason for Hope
Hope is the opposite of disappointment, but hope centered on Jesus – not people. People will more often than not disappoint you, as you more often than you care to admit disappoint others.

But in the desire to know Christ more richly and deeply and to follow Him more closely and intimately, you will transform your disappointment into hope.

In time, Martha was able to confidently assert to Jesus, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world” (John 11:27). What do you say about Jesus and how do you view Him? The answer is often the difference between discouraging disappointment and blessed hope!