Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It Takes All Kinds

“The Lord said to her in reply, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.’” Luke 10: 41-42

It appears from this passage about Martha and her sister Mary that Martha gets a bad rap, doesn’t it? Here she is serving Jesus and the apostles, feeding everyone, taking care of everyone’s needs, washing the dishes, etc. and all the while Mary just sits at the feet of Jesus listening to Him. At first when Martha complains we sympathize and expect Jesus to chastise Mary for her apparent laziness and inconsideration to her sister. And yet, somewhat surprisingly to some people, Jesus actually gentle challenges Martha to spend less time worrying and trying to control things and to let go and rest in His presence like Mary. Wow! Didn’t see that coming at first, did we? Especially in America, where hard work and productivity are highly praised and someone without work is labeled as lazy (many times unjustly).

But is Jesus really praising the fact that Mary is doing nothing? Of course not. It’s not so much that she is doing nothing, but she is doing something that has more value at that moment. There is a time for everything and when in the presence of Jesus, He is telling us to simply let go of our worries, put down our burdens, forget about what people think of us and allow Him to speak to our hearts and be refreshed in His presence.

However, if we look a little deeper into Scripture we find another story about Martha and Mary. In the Gospel of John we learn that Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary has died. Jesus goes to the tomb and when Martha hears about His coming she runs to Him and talks to Him and shows her faith in Him as the Savior. She still has hope at this moment of grief. She is bold and she is trying to solve the problem. All the while this is going on, Mary, the one who basked at the feet of Jesus, is not even able to go to Him now. She stays at home wallowing in her grief until Jesus calls her.

What this tells us is that there are all kinds of people and personalities. Martha is more of a go-getter, a doer, perhaps a leader. But her weakness is that she tries to control everything and trusts herself too much. In addition, she judges others easily because she expects others to be as productive and attentive as she. Mary on the other hand appears to be more free-spirited. She loves deeply, feels deeply and has dramatic emotional highs and lows. When she is feeling “up”, nothing can stop her, but when she is feeling “low”, nothing seems to give her hope. Perhaps this is a weakness for her. One is not better than the other. The reality is that God has made all kinds of people and He calls each of us to Him and while we respond in different ways, there is much that we can learn from one another. Where our weaknesses lie, another might have strengths and vice versa. Instead of attacking, judging and condemning one another, let us learn from one another as we all seek to respond to the Lord’s call.

Dear Jesus, both Martha and Mary loved You. Both had to learn to trust You and let go of what they were holding onto. Please give me the grace to trust You, to let go of what I need to and to follow You every day. Amen.

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