Hello again! It's Thursday already! And another day to spend with Martha... remembering what is important in the midst of our busy days.
I think perhaps I have a different picture of Martha in my head than most people, when I read the account in Luke of the hospitality she offered for the Master and his disciples. I see her in my mind's eye as being a wonderful, well-respected housekeeper with a great heart. With Jesus and His disciples there, she would need to prepare quite a bit of food, and so she flitted here and there, busily preparing, and organizing and overseeing. This was an area that practical Martha excelled in and she wanted to do her best for the Master and His friends!
I can see her now standing at one end of the table, surveying the food bowls to see which need to be filled, pouring the drinks, and watching eagerly to meet needs wherever she saw them. This was her task and she was good at it. She didn't really listen to what was going on around her. It probably didn't concern her anyway. Besides, she had had a long and busy day with important things on her mind!
Mary, her sister, sits on the other end of the table at Jesus' feet. Quietly watching, she will fill a glass when it is empty, or pass some food when it is requested, but most of the time she simply listens to the talk around her, drinking in this time with the Master and his disciples. She is so much involved in the conversation that, sometimes, Martha has to speak to her twice before she even hears! Finally, at some simple request, Martha loses all patience and flares up. "Lord, don't you care that Mary has left me to do all the serving alone? You tell her to come and help me!"
Imagine her surprise and consternation, when instead of doing as she requested, Jesus turned to her with quite a different answer. I honestly don't think He spoke harshly to her. I can imagine he shook his head and His eyes twinkled a bit as he said, "Martha, Martha..." But still what He said had to hurt a bit. He had been watching her all day and longing to be able to minister to her as well as to her brother, his disciples and Mary. In all her hovering and officious helpfulness, Martha had missed an opportunity to be refreshed and blessed by their Guest. What a loss! Both Mary and Martha offered hospitality that day but while Martha was only intent on giving a blessing, Mary chose to BE a blessing by both giving of herself and receiving from others. That is the part that Jesus wouldn't take away from her.
We serve others all the time. Husbands, children, friends, church members, family... Is our service one-sided? The story of Mary and Martha shows me that someone with a heart of hospitality will couple unobtrusive service with listening to and learning from others. Learn to listen to those you love while you serve them... even if you don't always understand what they are talking about. Listening will make your guests feel comfortable and important even if your home isn't perfect, or your meal isn't fancy. Work on being an unobtrusive blessing today!