Mary and Martha

Go figure – it takes a man to offer a fresh insight into the proverbial question, “Are you a Mary or a Martha?”

Charles Spurgeon’s meditation 

Charles Spurgeon stunned me by his evening offering for 24 January!  Explaining that Martha should not be faulted for having a servant’s heart but ONLY for allowing herself to grow distracted, he then solves the Mary v. Martha dilemma!

It’s NOT a matter of which mindset is the better. We should be a combination of BOTH personality types.  We should serve Jesus as well as soak in His teachings.

Why had I never seen that? Or, for that matter, why have I never READ of the 3rd way?

Sharing Spurgeon’s insight with Mike, I started thinking of other implications drawn from this incidence:

  • Martha and Mary are a pretty dysfunctional pair of sisters!  Wouldn’t you think that they had hosted guests for dinner before?  I doubt that Mary’s unawareness or disregard for her sister’s feelings was a new wrinkle to their relationship.
  • Why couldn’t Martha be forthright and ask Mary for help, instead of seething and growing resentful that her sister hadn’t NOTICED she needed assistance?
  • Why couldn’t Mary just go ahead and pitch in to help her sister, knowing that the man/prophet/Messiah/friend who had raised their brother Lazarus from the dead was coming to dine along with his disciples?  Was she so insensitive to think that Martha might not like to sit down and listen to the conversation too?

Had the sisters teamed up and prepared the meal together, they could have gotten every task covered and completed AND then had time to refresh themselves and learn at Jesus’ feet.

Both Martha’s distracted resentment of her sister’s behavior and Mary’s indifferences are mirrors that makes me wince. How many times in the past have I expected my husband to KNOW how I’m feeling and what I want or need?  That’s unfair!  And it’s a burden we wouldn’t want placed on us.  Furthermore, haven’t I also chosen to overlook how I might help out a friend or colleague and excused my self-centered behavior with the rationale, “They like to serve, that’s just their love language!”

So thank you, Charles Spurgeon, for teaching me something brand new and useful about the Mary and Martha story.  Next time I’m presented with an either/or situation, let me also consider a third option!

See John 11 for the Mary and Martha dinner party account!