Churches are filled with believers who have a go-go-go attitude. Serve in this way! Go on that mission! Teach a class! Lead worship! These are good things, but the activity of doing can overshadow the power of being and get us off track.
Today’s passage offers a perfect picture of this “doing versus being” dichotomy, as it reveals Martha and Mary’s unique responses to Jesus’ visit. We immediately see that Martha is the doer. She runs around, cleaning, making the meal, and operating in a whirlwind of activity. Mary, however, is more concerned with simply being—she wants to be near Jesus and absorb every moment of His presence.
Neither sister was necessarily wrong in her response. Martha is often looked down upon in this scene, but the truth is, her heart was in the right place in wanting to meet the needs of her Master. She was going about the ministry, while Mary was engaged in worship.
In His rebuke of Martha in Luke 10:41-42, Jesus never said Martha was wrong for what she was doing; He said only that her busyness wasn’t the best thing at the moment. This interaction is a message for the church, as the Lord calls us first to honor Him. Only then—once we are fueled by His Spirit and an intimate encounter with God—are we best prepared to go about the activity of ministry.
The church needs both Marthas and Marys. Thinking about whom you identify with more, ask, Do I keep an intimate relationship with God in the midst of my activity? Do I allow private worship to fuel my ministry fire?
Bible in One Year: 1 Samuel 17-18