Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Martha and the Quest for Help

Photo Courtesy of: Volha Flaxeco

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’” ~Luke 10:38-42

At first glance, it would seem, perhaps, that Jesus is overly exaggerating or even a little wrong when He says to Martha that only one thing is needed and that Mary has chosen that better part. After all, does not Proverbs 31:10-31 go on and on about all that the godly wife and mother was doing in and around her home? Doesn't it speak of her spinning thread, making clothing, looking well to the ways of her household, conducting business, traveling far and wide to gather the best food possible for her family, serving the poor and needy, and making meals? Judging from the tasks alone, that sounds a lot like Martha.

Furthermore, we might be wondering-what about Titus 2? Does it not say that we, as women, are to be busy at home, that the Word of God be not blasphemed? Sounds pretty crucial to me! Or Proverbs 14:1-we as women are to be wise and build our homes rather than foolishly tear them down with our own hands. But consider with me this truth for a moment: We cannot conduct the roles of wife, mother, and homemaker well, unless we are regularly tapping into the Lord, His truth, and His strength. We cannot conduct our other roles as women well if we do not first begin at the beginning and build a firm foundation of relationship.

For example, not only did the Proverbs 31 woman fill her time with meal-making, tapestry-sewing, and the like, we also see that she feared God (vs. 30) and opened her mouth with wisdom (vs.26)-feats which would have been impossible had she not first been a student of the Word, seeking after and acquiring the wisdom of God, since true wisdom comes only from the Lord (Prov. 1:7; 2:6; 15:33). Likewise, reading further into Titus 2:4-5, we see that women are not merely to be homemakers, but also loving, good, chaste, and discreet-characteristics which mirror the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and are only cultivated through the work of God in our hearts and lives and through our daily pursuit of Him. 

The work of the home is indeed to be one of our primary priorities as women, and the nurture and care of our families are some of our most important roles. But God is to be of first priority in our lives and it is only by learning from and about Him and His example that we are equipped for the myriad important daily tasks set before us. 

So, why does Jesus say but one thing is needed? Because that one thing - being at the feet of Jesus to listen to and learn from Him - carries out into all the other areas of life, touching and affecting each and every one. As a friend made the point to me a while back, "Perhaps Martha would have had the strength, grace, and servant's heart required for her tasks if she had first met with Jesus and spent time at His feet." 

Oftentimes we busy women allow our daily quiet times to be the first thing to go when life speeds up and we begin to feel weighed down by it all. But that is the biggest mistake we can make in those moments. It is like cutting ourselves off from an IV that is infusing life-giving medicine into our bodies. It zaps us of the strength, vision, endurance, love, purpose, joy, stamina, and grace required for this marathon called life. We need that time in the Word! 

Sadly, however, those moments with the Lord are the first and easiest to see go because, after all, no one will notice the difference, right? My family will definitely notice if there is no food on the table or if the laundry remains piled on the floor or if they step foot in that bath tub that hasn't seen a good cleaning in far too long, but if I don't read my Bible today or even this week? How would they even know? Trust me, they will feel the difference. 

The atmosphere of our homes will undoubtedly feel different. They will notice that we are more stressed, more cranky and irritable, and more likely to grow frustrated, exhausted, or discouraged. I know I, for one, notice a big difference in my entire outlook on the rest of my day if I do not have my daily quiet time first thing in the morning after my husband leaves for work and before my kids get up. I am more easily made irritable or frustrated and even my energy and exuberance for the day's tasks can more easily wane. When I happen to start my day in God's Word, however, I am uplifted and better equipped and prepared for whatever lies ahead. Second Timothy 3:16-17 speaks to this phenomenon - "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Time in the Word is not something to take off the to-do list when the days get hurried and harried. Focusing on our to-do lists and having it be our mission to daily complete as many of the tasks thereon as possible is not what will lead ourselves and our loved ones closer to Christ. Yes, homemaking tasks are important, but I believe we would all agree that souls are far more so. Regular time in the Word is crucial, for we cannot pass on what we do not have. It isn’t that work and homemaking are unimportant tasks. It is that we have to have the truth and encouragement of the Word in our hearts in order to equip us for those important tasks at hand.

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