Martha: The Busy Girl. Part 4 in a Seven-Week Bible Study for Women

Welcome! I’m so glad you’re joining us for this seven-week Bible study based on Love Letters from God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart. We’ll be studying the lives of seven incredible New Testament women. It’s the perfect way to journey through Lent together.

Martha: The Busy Girl

Read: Luke 10: 38-42

I have a confession to make… I’m a terrible host. I’ve never liked cooking that much, and when we have more than two people to entertain, I’m a nervous wreck. I cannot imagine how Martha must have felt as she busied herself for the arrival of Jesus and his disciples. It’s my idea of the ultimate nightmare.

I mean, Jesus is coming to dinner. For me, that would be like entertaining the Queen of England. Wouldn’t you want your place to be perfect and your baking top-notch if the Son of God was coming to your eat at your house? Hospitality was an important social requirement of the times. No-one can blame Martha for wanting everything to be perfect.  Just imagine all the jobs she’d already done in preparation…

And then, the big moment arrives.

Slip into Martha’s sandals for a moment and put yourself in her position…

Jesus knocks on the door, the house is filling with important people, and you’re the one doing all the work. Your little sister’s not in the kitchen, where she really needs to be, and when you go in search of her, you find her on the floor, gazing up in admiration at the guest you’ve been slaving your socks off for.

In exasperation, you cry out to Jesus:

Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me! Luke 10: 40

Given the circumstances, it’s a request that seems fairly reasonable to me. But instead of taking your side, Jesus almost rebukes you:

Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. Luke 10: 41-42

And this is the man you’ve just been slaving over a hot stove for!

There’s not a woman in this world who wouldn’t feel some empathy for Martha at this point. Even if you’re not a feminist, the compassionate side of every female wants to defend this hard-working girl who’s doing everything while Mary sits dreamily at Jesus’ feet.

But surely, being at the feet of Jesus is just where he wants us to be. Because when we’re at his feet, that’s when we’ll see the nails.

That’s when we’ll be reminded of the one thing that is needed… which is to be listening to Jesus.

Isn’t it only when we listen to Jesus that we’ll know for sure what we’re supposed to be busy about?

And once we know that, then we can go out and be a Martha in this hurting world.

Prayer:

God of grace, you know me better than I know myself. During this time of Lent, help me, more than ever, to lay aside all my distractions, and listen to what you would say to me. Help me to have Mary’s willingness to sit at your feet, and Martha’s energy as you send me out to do your work in the world. Amen.

Questions For Reflection:

  • Are you more of a Martha, or a Mary? Which sister can you relate to most?
  • How are you doing with your Lenten walk?
  • Who do you know who is like a Mary or a Martha? What do you admire about them?
  • What is God revealing to you in this story?

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15 thoughts on “Martha: The Busy Girl. Part 4 in a Seven-Week Bible Study for Women

  1. Mary Jane

    I would like to be both, a Martha who attends to everyone’s needs and a Mary who listens and loves with the heart. Martha was the oldest and therefore, to be “responsible.” Marv “could” have time for the sentimental things because Martha took care of “needful” things.
    I think Jesus understood and appreciated both of them!!

    Reply
    1. Glenys Post author

      I agree Mary Jane. That’s the wonderful thing about Jesus…he knows us all, knows just what we need, and loves us unconditionally. I think he just knew that Martha needed to slow down for her own good.

      Reply
  2. Peggy Manrose

    I tend to be too much like Martha, but during Lent I am trying to have quiet time with Jesus every day.
    I love entertaining at our home, but sometimes I let the preparation overshadow the actual time with friends and family. I’m working on it!
    I, like Mary Jane, hope I can be both like Mary and Martha.

    Reply
  3. Anita

    I tend to be more like Martha, but we don’t entertain often. Usually it’s just our family and when we are all together evereyone pitches in to help. I do try to sit and listen when we have guests and in order to do that get everything in order before they arrive.
    As I have gotten older and am now retired I have more time to sit and listen for God to speak to me but I still struggle with “turning off my mind” so that other thoughts do not intrude.
    I believe God definitely would like his children to slow down and spend more time with him. I’m sure if we all did that more it would be a wonderful world!

    Reply
    1. Glenys Post author

      Wouldn’t it be great, Anita, if we had a little on/ off switch so we could turn out minds off and switch the ‘Mind on God’ button on? I so need that!

      Reply
  4. Pauline Smith

    I’m definitely a Martha too, always busy and sometimes I’m so busy doing ‘church’ things that I don’t actually hear what Jesus is saying. He may not want me to be so busy that I wear myself out but to have more ‘Mary’ time. That’s what I need to do more often. I’m afraid I also exhibit Martha’s exasperation at times too, with people who I may perceive as lazy – but it’s not for me to judge.
    I think I’m doing a bit better with Lent this year. Somehow it seems to hold more meaning and I find I’m reading a lot and hopefully this will draw me closer to Jesus. Strangely I have found myself in a couple of situations recently where I could witness in unlikely circumstances- praise God who continues to equip us for His service.

    Reply
    1. Glenys Post author

      I’m so glad you’re finding time to read Pauline…I don’t seem to do that enough. Daniel bought me Thomas Merton’s ‘The Seven Storey Mountain’ (his autobiography) and it’s incredible, but I have to force myself to take the time to read it. That is wonderful, that you’re finding yourself in those situations where you can witness. It makes me smile.

      Reply
      1. Anita

        Jack has many of Merton’s books, including that one. He says he thinks he is a “contemplative” and that’s why so many people often don’t understand what Jack is saying 🙂

        Reply
        1. Glenys Post author

          Well if he’s in the company of Thomas Merton, then that’s a great place to be! Plus, he has a wonderful wife who understands him 🙂

          Reply
  5. Lori

    I agree with the other gals that I am a mixture of Martha & Mary. I think maybe we all are; it’s just a matter of degree. With that said, I think everyone of my women friends & family are both and I admire the dedication and hard work of Martha as well as the openness of Mary. I have friends like Mary who would put down whatever they were doing if I walked in the door and needed their attention. I admire that and I try and emulate that when I can. I also have my sister who is more than willing to listen but hardly ever stops “working” moving around in the kitchen cooking or cleaning or folding laundry-something. Many times, I feel like she is not listening but some people need to be busy with their hands to be able to listen, too. So, we shouldn’t discredit Martha that she might be able to listen while still working but that was not what she presented to Jesus. She wanted Mary to help.
    While raising Dana, I was too far on the Martha side and even though I tried there were many times that I did not put aside what I was doing to give my full attention. Time can be our enemy sometimes. So many obligation and every day we only have 24 hours to accomplish them.
    As I have gotten older and an empty nester, I try and use the positives from both women. I try to work ahead every day so I am prepared to offer hospitality whether to my husband or to a friend. I also have given myself permission to leave the dishes (that don’t fit in the dishwasher!) for after my guests have left; whether that be family or formal guests. If I can, I stop whenever my granddaughter asks “Grandma, come play with me”. Unless something is cooking on the stove, I am there!
    But we know that Jesus is wanting us to look deeper than entertaining. During this Lenten season, I am trying to listen ; to have silence. It has been hard. I can’t seem to do it for very long. My mind wanders and I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be listen for. But I try. Sometimes it is just good to silence the noise around us, especially in the news.

    Reply
    1. Glenys Post author

      I so agree with all your thoughts Lori. It’s easy for me to look back on the time I was raising my children and to wish I had stopped more and given them more attention. Parenting is so much easier in retrospect and I often wish I could turn back time and do things differently. We are all wiser as we age, and the wonderful thing is that as grandmas now, we can give that time to our grandchildren. What a a blessing it is to be able to do that!

      Reply

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