Nancy K. Brown
I've always been fascinated with the biblical
story of Martha. No matter how many times I
read the account, my sympathies seem to be drawn
to the hard-working older sister. I guess that's
because I'm a lot like her.
In her quest to meet the day-to-day needs of
those around her, Martha put everything she
had into her tasks. I can almost imagine what
it must have been like on the day Jesus came
for a visit. Martha probably planned the perfect
meal and then spent hours at the market choosing
just the right items to complete her menu.
No one could call this lady lazy, and nothing
was left undone when Martha's hand was in it.
Her energy and resourcefulness are admirable.
But even with her outstanding abilities, the
biblical account reveals a glaring shortcoming
in this otherwise meticulous homemaker-and it's
one we all share.
In her struggle to make everything perfect,
something happened to Martha. Wading through
her long list of chores, she lost her focus
and began to despise the very work that had
once brought joy. Instead of her work being
motivated by the desire to help others, she
succumbed to self-pity and resentment.
Poor Martha. Overcome by responsibility, her
fury raged and she lashed out at her sister,
Mary, who chose to lay aside some of the mundane
tasks to enjoy sitting and learning at the feet
of Jesus. Most of us can certainly relate to
Martha's frustration - after all, why should
we be doing all the work? That's because we,
too, get caught up in the duty of doing, and
we forget the satisfaction that comes from simply
listening to those we love.
As Martha mulled over her displeasure, she
finally turned to the Lord in frustration and
cried, "Don't you care?"
I must confess - I do the same thing.
Where do such negative attitudes come from?
In most cases, they are the result of a motivation
that has shifted from the desire to serve, to
one that dwells on self and upon what others
should be doing.
Martha's problem wasn't in the nature of her
work. The problem was that her point of reference
had become distorted, which, in turn, negatively
affected her attitudes. With the change in attitude
came a change in motivation and a change in
Like Martha, our lives can be filled with a
long list of daily duties. But as we race along
on the treadmill of life, we must guard against
becoming like Martha, who forgot what was most
None of us will deny that a life defined by
constant giving can be difficult. Nor will we
deny that there are times when what we really
want is to be left alone. And we need times
of solitude, quiet times spent alone with God,
so that He can replenish our spirits and refresh
our hearts. If we don't make those times a priority,
we will never have the strength and resilience
necessary to meet the challenges of life, and
our attitudes will easily deterioriate into
negativity and self-pity.
Instead of loosing heart, as Martha did, let's
keep a watchful eye on our emotions. Meeting
the needs of others should be a joyful journey,
not a burdensome bother. When frustrations arise
and activities escalate, let's guard against
selfish intentions and be careful to measure
our motives. Finally, let's remember to follow
Mary's example of making it a priority to consistently
spend quiet time in the presence of our Shepherd,
Jesus, who "restores our souls" (Psalm
Nancy is a freelance writer and the
public relations consultant based in Convoy,
Ohio. She writes for several print and online
publications. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org