Saturday, December 10, 2011

Martha might be my Hero

I don't want to plug a book that I haven't read, but the title itself intrigues me:

It's by the same author (Joanne Weaver) as
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. 

The basis of the book is, presumably, the history of a dinner event that was recorded in Luke 10:38-42. Mary and Martha were hosting Jesus and the pack that traveled with Him. 

Jesus had become a man with a controversial reputation. He'd already lived a radical lifestyle, preached the fulfillment of the traditional religion, raised a child from the dead, cast demons out of people, and fed more people in one sitting than I have in my entire life (which is sayin' somethin')
He had become a pop culture icon, in a way. He had certainly polarized the culture He lived in. 

If you were to tell a crib note version of Luke 10:38-42, without reading it again, most of us would condense it into a couple concise sentences: Jesus went to the home of Mary and Martha. While Martha was in the kitchen getting the meal ready, Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet. Martha complained that her sister wasn't helping in the kitchen. Jesus scolded Martha for being such a worry wart, thereby praising Mary for choosing wisely.

Pretty much it, right?
The obvious application is usually something along the line of
our being with Jesus more. Worry about stuff less.
Be Mary. Squash your inner Martha.

Like two stories (which are not related to the topic of this blog at all)
I read to my kids 
and another, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs,
don't assume the way you perceive something is always correct.

Let's first reexamine Martha's request.

The NLT says, But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, "Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here, while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me."

One translation says Martha was cumbered about much servingCumbered means having a troublesome or useless weight or load; burdened or oppressed. 

Martha had a guest she admired, she may have already loved, and she might have already embraced His teaching. She might have settled it in her heart that this Man was her Messiah. We don't know the timing of her transformation into a Jesus Follower, but we do know from the rest of her story that she was at least headed that way. I understand her wanting to open her home for His use.

As she slammed pots and pans and slung hash, so to speak, to make her meal a success, she did it ostensibly alone. She may have had other kitchen help, but she wanted to have her sister's help. 

Maybe it was because she knew Mary would "share her glory" at meal time and she wanted her to also share the sweat.  Maybe she desperately wanted to be at Jesus' feet also, but serving His meal had become her primary objective. Martha's love language may have been acts of service. Since I am trying to focus on what the scripture says, not on what I want to assume, the maybe's don't count.

Her words tell us a little about how she was feeling (...for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. Matthew 12:34b) "Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here..." STOP!

Words that catch my attention:
just sits

and the rest of her statement: "Tell her to come and help me."

1. She let Jesus know how he should feel about the situation.
2. She told Jesus what he should do about it.

Is that me, or what?!
Alright, Lord. I know that (this situation) must be breaking your heart. I am in quite a stir about it myself. I mean, the nerve of her to say those things about my friend! And she pretends to be godly in saying them. I am available to do Your will. If You bring her to this grocery store right now, I will willingly allow you to speak through me and straighten her out. 

(I do hope you don't think that was a real life example of how I would speak to God...if perchance someone had said something that I know wasn't true...and I was itching to set someone right...and it was last week...and I think I'm okay now that God and I had more time to talk it out...)

Maybe you don't have moments of knowing how life should be going down, and you don't get your panties in a wad over what others are saying or doing.
Well, I do.

In looking at Jesus' reply to Martha, see what He addresses. 
Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (KJV)

Other translations use the words distracted, worried, upset, anxious, disquieted to describe what Jesus saw as the problem.
1. Martha, your body, your brain and your heart are feeling a weight God did not put there.
2. Look at me, not those around you.

He asked Martha to make her decisions about her attitude
based on her heart, based on her relationship with Him.

Think of a few of the women in the Bible that we admire. We know that some were very industrious in mind and body: The woman described in Proverbs 31 was a busy gal. She held a resume I doubt I'll ever have. Ruth worked in the fields as a minimum wage laborer. Lydia was a small business owner--and the few business owners I know stay VERY busy. And God blessed their faith and work.

I, for one, love the tasks involved in serving. I enjoy being hospitable. I like to hear the gang cackling in the other room while I cut the pie, and finish up the dishes. I like the final swoop across the house to throw toys into their bins and swipe the dust from the top of the piano. I like the door swinging open and welcoming new and old friends into our space, and our hearts. I am a Martha, to the core.

I am glad that Jesus didn't reprimanded Martha for being Martha.

He didn't tell her that He and His followers didn't need to eat.
He didn't even belittle the many things that were chasing themselves through her head as she prepared for her guests (and if they stay tonight, Lazarus can sleep in the living room with the disciples while Jesus takes L's room with one or two of Jesus' besties. I can get the additional eggs needed for breakfast from Sarah since her hens are doing so well, and the figs were plentiful this year, so I think that's covered. Good thing we made those extra loaves of bread yesterday! Aw, I could use another hand in here cutting the fruit. I wonder if they'll like the date cakes or the halvah better. I think I might need to....)

 He didn't ask Martha to BE Mary, because Mary WAS better.
 Jesus Himself was "that good part" who Martha is encouraged to seek.
Martha gets a bad rap from us as if busy is bad, and service is selfish.
I don't hear Jesus say that. He simply puts the choice before her: 
Truly serving Jesus starts with just loving Jesus.

I'm glad God documented this bit of history for me. He tells me to
Be Dorothy.
Be who I made you to be, then choose wisely.
Be intentional in where you put your energy. Put it into eternal things.
Put your energy into longing for Me, and into loving people.
Those are better than only being fretful that your Martha Stewart Holiday isn't going to be as perfect as the one in the magazine. Take the time to plan with Jesus first, and the rest will prioritize itself on most days. It's okay that you can't do the parade, the lights, the gift exchange, the cookie recipe swap, the hand-made wreaths and the matchy-matchy outfits for everyone.

I had this post partially written and set aside but I was mulling the idea one morning this week while getting kids ready for school. I was considering how to put it into words; how to examine our idea of what Jesus said, and understand what Jesus meant...

The thought made me giggle out loud--That's it, my book title:

How to Take Your Martha Heart in a Martha World. 

Go be who He made you to be...with a great heart attitude.

1 comment:

  1. Love this, Dorothy! It has always bothered me a lot the way I have heard this story taught and preached. I guess because I am a Martha too, and I do love Jesus. Thanks so much for such a great post!