Mary or Martha?

“Martha was distracted with much serving.”  Luke 10:40


            It was Tuesday evening at 9 p.m. when Cindy pulled her car up in the drive. Exhausted, she grabbed her cleaning supplies from the back seat and set them on the garage counter as she stepped into the kitchen. She was starving and ready for a shower and bed.

            “Hey stranger,” Sam called from the kitchen table, in front of his laptop. “I’ll warm up some mac and cheese for you. I’m just about finished with the new church directory, although I may have to retake some of the pictures.”

            “Thanks, honey, I’m really tired and hungry tonight. Mac and cheese? I think I’ll make a salad instead; too many carbs this late. By the way, don’t forget to get some men together for the Saturday work day next weekend. Pastor is counting on you.”

            “If it wasn’t for the church, I wouldn’t call the same guys again. It seems like we are always the ones doing everything. I feel like one of those telemarketers.”

            Tossing a few greens in a bowl, Cindy said, “Carla asked if I could join the Ladies Quilting group. They meet on Thursday nights at her house. What do you think? The truth is…I am feeling a little run down with all the church volunteering. You and I don’t have much time together anymore and I almost never spend time reading the Bible. But I always feel guilty when I think of saying no.”

            “I feel the same way. To be honest with you, I am starting to resent you for not being here to fix dinner more often. The other day when I opened my dresser drawer and couldn’t find any clean socks I got really mad for a second. I know it’s not reasonable and I could do the laundry but I feel like I come in second to the church in your life.”

            Stunned, Cindy shoved some of Sam’s pile of papers aside and sat down at the table. Fighting back the tears, she said, “I guess this is true confessions night. So I’ll say I felt exactly the same way when I realized the oil hadn’t been changed in the car last week and that pile of wood from your last project was still blocking the gate to the backyard.”

            “Why are you looking like that?” Cindy asked.

            “I just remembered what we were reading at the Bible study this week. It was about Mary and Martha when Jesus came into their house. Honey I think we are giving too much of our life to doing things instead of our time with each other and the Lord. We’ve gotten off balance and maybe it’s driven by guilt or the need to be noticed. All I know is we are spending too many hours doing busy work.”

  • Luke 10:38-42  As they continued their journey, Jesus came to a village and a woman called Martha welcomed him to her house. She had a sister by the name of Mary who settled down at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was very worried about her elaborate preparations and she burst in, saying, “Lord, don’t you mind that my sister has left me to do everything by myself? Tell her to get up and help me!” 41-42 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, my dear, you are worried and bothered about providing so many things. Only a few things are really needed, perhaps only one. Mary has chosen the best part and you must not tear it away from her!”
  • Matthew 6:1-4   “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
  • Ephesians 2:9   For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
  • Matthew 6:31-33   “So don’t worry and don’t keep saying, ‘What shall we eat, what shall we drink or what shall we wear?! That is what pagans are always looking for; your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Set your heart on the kingdom and his goodness, and all these things will come to you as a matter of course.”


We were not saved because of our good works and we cannot keep our salvation with good works. Guilt is not a part of our walk with God. Helping others, including our church group, is a normal aspect of Christianity. However, allowing ourselves to perform for accolades or agreeing to take on yet another job out of guilt or obligation is not born out of a relationship with Christ; that behavior is of the flesh, not of the Lord.


  • Matthew 11:28-30    “Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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