38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
“Distracted with much serving” is not what I expect to read in the bible. Surely for Christians, “serving” is the point?
…How can Mary – who does precisely nothing – come off better in the story than Multi-tasking Martha? It’s not fair! Here’s what I say: Give Martha a medal and Mary a tea-towel..
Luckily for Mary, Jesus is on hand and not me. Instead of drawing Mary into Martha’s stress, He calls Martha to join Mary in resting at His feet.
Here’s the thing: Martha looks like a servant, but her heart isn’t in it. Instead of being an expression of love, her “service” is what stops her loving. It makes her resent those around her and it fractures her relationships with the people she says she wants to help. Her sister, who she resents for not joining her in her busyness…and the Lord.
Martha implies that by allowing Mary to ‘rest’ whilst she ‘works’, Jesus is blind, uncaring and has His priorities all wrong. It’s a strange servant who ends up criticizing her Master, but this is precisely where her “service” leads her. Martha wants to serve Jesus; but she fails to see the truth – it is He who serves her.
Like many of us, Martha wants to be a good provider. But as Jesus argues “Mary has chosen the better portion.”
The “good portion” is not, first and foremost, to serve others. It’s not even to serve Jesus. The good portion is to be served by Jesus. It’s learning to receive.