Be a Mary, Not a Martha: Learning to Sit at the Lord’s Feet
Do you get so burdened by tasks that you prioritize to-do lists over Jesus? Join me in welcoming one of our newest contributors, Kelley Thigpen, to The Better Mom as she encourages us to learn to sit at Jesus’ feet.
- XO, Ruth
Be a Mary, Not a Martha.
Any Marthas reading this, let me explain.
Luke tells a story about Jesus visiting the house of Martha—a story that contains a valuable lesson about busyness. Before I go any further, though, read along with me and let’s refresh our memory.
Now while they were on their way, Jesus entered a village [called Bethany], and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was continually listening to His teaching. But Martha was very busy and distracted with all of her serving responsibilities; and she approached Him and said, “Lord, is it of no concern to You that my sister has left me to do the serving alone? Tell her to help me and do her part.” But the Lord replied to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 38-42 AMP
This is a cautionary tale of prioritizing to-do lists over Jesus. Mary wisely chooses to sit in front of Jesus and listen.
“But Martha…” Oh sweet, well-meaning Martha. “But Martha was very busy and distracted with all of her serving responsibilities…” Sound familiar?
Here’s where Mary got it so right. Can you imagine welcoming Jesus into your home and then having the opportunity to sit down “at the Lord’s feet” and just listen to His precious, holy words?? Talk about once in a lifetime opportunity!
The Bible does specify that Martha had a responsibility to serve her guests. As mothers/wives we have many responsibilities: to our husbands, our kids, our church, our work, and ourselves. These responsibilities become to-do lists. Yes “lists” with an “s”—the mental list, the list on your phone, and then there’s the list on that random scrap of paper you found in the kitchen when you thought of more to-do’s but had no idea where your phone was. (This can’t be just me.)
I think we can all relate to Martha feeling overwhelmed by her responsibilities. Martha responds with the oh-so-familiar, “Lord, do you not care…?” Don’t you care that I’m trying to fulfill all of my responsibilities that you entrusted to me as a wife and mother? Why aren’t you helping me? Why is it so hard?
But verses 41-42 show us that Jesus does care. Jesus cares about what Martha is missing. He points out that she’s consumed by her responsibilities and has missed “the good part.” Jesus had a different priority for Martha in that moment than she did for herself. So of course she got frustrated!
When my own to-do list consumes my thinking, I’ve taken my eyes off Jesus. Worry and frustration inevitably follow. I might miss something He had prepared for me that day, or I might miss the peace that coming into His presence allows.
We must tear ourselves free from our to-do list and look to Jesus and ask what He would like us to prioritize that day. We, like Mary, can choose to sit in the presence of Jesus, by prayer or simply being mindful of His hand in our lives. Our lists certainly don’t disappear as we do this, but keeping our focus on Jesus will, at the very least, help us have the right mindset to tackle those to-do’s.
Let’s not miss “the good part” Jesus has planned for us each day.
Let’s follow the example of Mary and seat ourselves at the Lord’s feet and continually listen.
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