Overcoming Distractions & Competition
Luke 10: 38-41
I think many of us who have grown up with Bible stories, may be very familiar with the story of Martha & Mary. I believe there’s various nuggets of wisdom to learn within this text. I know for myself, when I’ve heard other leaders teach from this story, the prevailing principle rests solely on the words of Jesus spoken to Martha. “ Martha, Martha 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.”
There is no doubt the instructional wisdom that is coming from Jesus to Martha is imperative to grasp. Always keep in mind when Jesus calls our name twice as he did Martha, He undoubtedly is trying to get our attention. So He proceeds to let one of the sisters know, the other sister has Made the very best choice. We understand that Mary sat at the Lord‘s feet and listened to every word He said. Now imagine, Jesus himself comes to your home to visit. What would your first response be? Would you be more like Martha or would you be more like Mary? I’d like to suggest through preparation and discipline, we can be both!
Personally, I am the type of woman who absolutely loves serving, especially when guests come to our home. I love preparing the atmosphere in various ways. I would have fresh flowers out, candles lit, and everything in order from food preparation to each room beautifully in order. I fully understand that when my guests are arriving, most are coming from chaotic lives. Possibly their marriages are not at peace, or their children and just life itself is difficult to manage. So I’ve always taken the time to pray, and prepare the atmosphere so when my guests arrive they feel a sense of peace, acceptance and a home full of love.
In my younger years, as I was married at 22, in full-time ministry with children, homeschooling, as well as founding a fitness ministry, you can imagine my schedule. At the time I was also traveling in and out of Africa. These were the years I really had to learn what times are appropriate to be a Martha and the times it was more appropriate to be a Mary. One day I had a girlfriend over and she needed to give her baby a bath. So of course I gathered everything she needed to bathe her son. I sat in the bathroom with her as the baby splashed water everywhere, laughing and giggling. But as soon as she lifted her son out of the tub and wrapped him in a towel, I began cleaning the tub! I don’t even think that child was 2 inches out of the water and I had the whole bathtub scrubbed and cleaned. Shower curtain was drawn back again to its original perfect position and the bath rug back in place and all of the toiletries put away. Later we met in the backyard to resume our girlfriend talk. And I’ll never forget what she said to me. “Gina, with our friendship you’ve always told me to be perfectly honest with you and this is one of those times. I needed to get my son dried and in his clothing and then I was going to return and clean up the bathroom. But you had already done it before I had a chance. Then earlier as we were having lunch, you picked up all the dishes and you washed them while I sat there. I would much rather spend the time with you and we could clean up later.“ I am so thankful that day that this sister chose to be perfectly honest with me. I enjoyed being a Mary, and listening and sharing our lives together, but at the same time the Martha in me could not handle anything to be out of order.”
Let’s look at this from another perspective. Control is the fear of losing something. When we have to be completely in control of our environment it means something within us is not at peace. When I was in my first marriage, there was no peace. That story is for another time, but I know my actions in my 20s and 30s as far as having to be on top of everything from running the ministry, to taking care of my family were out of order because my marriage was out of order, I was out of order. I always felt a sense of making sure everything was perfect, because if it wasn’t, I would definitely hear about it. Our past relationships or upbringing, shapes our actions today! The good news is if we pay attention to why we respond the way we do to circumstance, friends, spouses or life, we can course correct! If we really want to look within. I would love to sit down and talk to Martha and find out a little bit more about her. It sounds like there was a lot of myself in her. She wanted things to be perfect for her Jesus. The scripture tells us she was in the kitchen making preparations. I think Martha loved people and she loved her Jesus. She wanted to make sure everything was in order. But when we take the time to understand each other‘s personalities, and where we all come from, it helps us understand why we are the way we are! I do pray you take time to understand the gifting‘s and personalities of those that are in your life. However, we must keep in mind just like my girlfriend gave it to me straight, and Jesus straight up spoke the truth to Martha, we have to ask if we too ate willing to hear it? Remember Jesus didn’t condemn Martha, he just spoke truth that penetrated her soul.
So we all understand at this point that Martha was distracted. I’ve offered some wisdom on why she may have been distracted, which should keep us from passing judgment. Now Mary is the sister that stayed at His feet and listened to every single word Jesus spoke . That speaks volumes about Mary’s character. It’s an interesting dynamic between these sisters. Now, I was the girl between two brothers and we were 22 months apart. So I never had a sister by blood, but I definitely have had many sisters in Chris and as a leader, interact with many personalities. So of course I’ve made mistakes, as in any relationship. But one thing is certain, there was competition between these two women! . Martha’s complaint to Jesus was that her sister left her to do all the work. She firmly tells Jesus what He needs to do. He must tell Mary she needs to help her! When Jesus responds that she’s worried and upset about many things, I do believe Jesus was speaking great insight to Martha. He in essence was saying , “ I know you feel like you’re doing all of the work by yourself. I created you and I’ve seen your life from birth to present. I know why you’re feeling upset, jealous, and that you have to do everything by yourself with no help. But for right now, you really just need to sit at my feet and I’ll show you why you’re responding this way.”.He didn’t rebuke her, or put her or put Martha down, He just simply said that she’s worried and upset about many things but only one thing is needed. God knows you!!
The question today is how do we know what that one thing is and when to do it? Implementation of what we know will be a lifelong lesson won’t it! You see life is a journey, and every day we are taught lessons that will help us to be more effective as friends, daughters, wives etc. First and foremost in any relationship is to never compete by comparing ourselves to another. This will result in automatic defeat! Everyone has a season they’re to run in at this moment. Anytime we take our eyes off of Jesus and put it on someone else, we will always find fault, which can lead to jealousy, envy and strife. True identity and kingdom purpose cannot come from another person. When we find the balance in our lives we will then be able to identify what our mission is at this moment. Both men and women must learn both character traits of Martha and Mary.
There will always be some thing to do, but we must be cognizant of the fact that the only way anything in our lives will be successful is if we look up and sit at the feet of Jesus first. Then this is where the Martha in us takes off. It’s imperative we find that balance. I know many Christian’s that are constantly on the run because their plates are full, and I know many Christian’s that continue to sit at the feet of Jesus but get nothing done. They’re still waiting for the green light to go while others are already on the move for the kingdom.
Wisdom coupled with zeal, that’s what we are all desiring to implement. If we don’t find the balance, we can be like Martha, always moving, always shaking, and running on our own preparations and never hearing the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. And yet we can be too much of a Mary, constantly waiting for God to speak to us when in fact He already has. There is a time to sit, and there’s a time to get up and go. I assure you if we all take the time to give our day and our plans to Jesus, He will multiply and bless every single person, place or thing we put our hands to! Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and HE will establish your plans.”
Everything in life requires commitment! Let’s pray for balance in our lives to know when to sit and listen and when to go! I will also add a word the Lord spoke to me years ago. “Gina, you will run with rest.” This meant I would stir many pots, but as I’m running, I’m still praying, still hearing, resulting in multiplication of all I put my hands to! Have you learned to sit at His feet so you can RUN with rest? May we all learn quickly because we are in a season of great multiplication. Once you’ve sat at His feet, get you and go! It’s time to put action to our prayers!