Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Stacy Averette

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sists here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42 New Living Translation

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Martha, Mary, and Jesus

Here’s what I noticed:

  1. Martha’s gift of hospitality. It was Martha who invited Jesus into her home when he was in town and planned to feed him and others a big dinner. We commend her for looking well to the ways of her household. Her plan was noble. Martha had good intentions. She wanted to share her home, make lots of good food, set a pretty table, and create an atmosphere for friends and family to fellowship. We’ve all been there!
  2. Martha was distracted. The Word says she was distracted by the big dinner (NLT); with all her preparations (NASB), and with much serving (NKJV). I couldn’t help but think of all the details I’ve let overwhelm me in the middle of a good deed. And I couldn’t help but think of all the needless things I’ve worried about just this week and how those needless things have distracted me from the one thing that is needed. Exercising the gift of hospitality (or any gift) is the right thing to do. But we must remember that the purpose of spiritual gifts is to build up the body of Christ, serve others, and glorify God. (I Corinthians 14:12, I Peter 4:10-11; Matthew 20:28; Philippians 2:3)
  3. Martha shifted the blame. Notice: She stopped looking at Jesus and side-eyed Mary. I’ve given the “side-eye” more times than I care to remember when things weren’t going as I’d planned. Sometimes when we’re overwhelmed and angry with ourselves for overcommitting and overdoing, we look for someone to blame. Our closest family and friends are usually easy targets.
  4. Martha had a pity party. We’re all prone to have a pity party from time to time. But notice what she did: Martha came to Jesus. She brought her complaints about her sister to Jesus. She told Jesus how unfair it was that she was doing all the work—basically, the grown-up version of tattling—and demanded that He tell her “to come and help me.” She expected Him to see her side of things, justify her feelings, and set the world in order according to Martha—because she knew if anyone could fix it, Jesus could. But she also knew He would speak the truth in love. Dear friend, have a pity party if you need one but have it with Jesus. Step outside, slip away to the bathroom, take a time-out right where you are, and tell it to Jesus. He cares for you.
  5. Mary sat at the Lord’s feet. He wasn’t staying long. He was passing through on His way to Jerusalem and Mary wanted to soak up every fleeting moment. Jesus wants our love and adoration more than anything. He wants an undivided heart and our undivided attention. “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6. When we learn to practice His presence at all times even our work becomes worship.
  6. Mary wasn’t distracted by Martha. Oh, you know she knew Mary was upset—or did she? Was she so focused on Christ that she was oblivious, or at least unruffled, by what Martha said about her to Jesus? When our eyes are fixed on Christ, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim”. I’m not there yet but I’m on my way.
  7. And then there’s Jesus. Oh, how he loved seeing Mary hopelessly devoted at His feet hanging on His every word! But the compassion he had for Martha, too, is so different than how I would’ve responded to a tattletale sister who’d just thrown me under the bus because she was having a bad day! Martha’s out of sorts and He knows it. But our dear friend, Jesus, responds as only He can. “My dear Martha,” he says to her. You are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Only one thing is necessary. Only one thing is needed—to be of Christ and with Christ.

Serious godliness is a needful thing, it is the one thing needful; for nothing without this will do us any real good in this world, and nothing but this will go with us into another world. Matthew Henry

Mary had discovered it. Have you?

My Mother Was A Mary

As I read the Mary and Martha story in Luke 10 this week, I thought of my mother. I’m certain I’ve known lots of “Marys” in my life but none come to mind as quickly as my mother.

Throughout her life, she quietly used her gifts and talents to bless whomever the Father placed in her path. She avoided the spotlight and wanted no fanfare for her service.

She learned to sew when she was a young wife and made almost everything she wore, especially dresses for church. My sister and I always had matching, handmade church dresses for every season. The only pageant I ever won in the late 70’s, I was wearing the prettiest sundress that mama made. I’ve never been a frilly girl and she knew just what kind of dress would suit me. (I definitely wasn’t the pageant type and remember feeling super awkward.)  But I love 70’s style! Wish I still had that flower choker. Hmmm. I could probably make one!

Tuesday, June 1 was Mama’s birthday. It’s fitting that I received these books in the mail that evening. I ordered them 6 weeks ago and wondered several times about the delay. I don’t think this type of stitching would have interested her but she would have enjoyed watching me learn and experiment creatively. Click here to learn more about Mending Matters and Mend & Patch.

Last week we visited our son who lives in the Atlanta area. I took the opportunity to shop at DSW. (Mama loved buying shoes and she loved DSW.) Most of my clothes are thrifted but I find very few shoes that I love in my size at the thrift store. I’d seen several advertisements for some cute crocs sandals. They seemed cute enough to wear with skirts and dresses but I wanted to try them on to see if they were comfortable, too. When I arrived at the store the only color they had in my size was this tomato red. I almost passed on what felt like an impractical color, then I heard my mother say, “Buy the shoes!”

I was thrilled to discover how comfortable they really are and that I have quite a few things in my closet that beg for tomato red sandals. They come in 8 different colors, fit true to size, and I wore them all day, straight out of the box! Click here to see all the colors and sizes available.

With age, I’m becoming more and more like my mother. Mother was a Mary. I was born a Martha, but I’m learning to be a Mary, too. I want to sit at the feet of my friend, Jesus, and listen and learn from His Word. I want to lay aside the needless worries of this life and carry around in my body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in me. (2 Cor 4:10)

The Rest of the Story

Mary and Martha both loved Jesus and in Luke 10 they were both intent on serving him. Jesus did not blame Martha for being concerned  about household chores. He was only asking her to set her priorities.

Has your service to Christ become merely busywork that is no longer in full devotion to God?

Are you so busy doing things for Jesus that you’re not spending any time with him?

Martha had allowed her service to become self-serving but she apparently headed the gentle reminder of Jesus in Luke 10:42. As we read later in John 12, Jesus is in Bethany six days before the Passover and once again in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Lazarus is reclining at the table with him, Martha anoints his feet with expensive perfume, and Martha is serving joyfully.

We all have been equipped with different and gifts and talents to use for the glory of God. Will you let your work be joyful worship?

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:23-24

I’m linking up with Richella at Imparting Grace. Click here to discover more ways to fill your home with truth, goodness, and beauty.

5 thoughts on “When You’re Overwhelmed, Over-Committed, and Distracted”

  1. I want to be a Mary, but Martha keeps coming out. I needed this beautiful reminder. Thank you

    1. Jan, I believe we have “Martha gifts” because God knew that we would need them to serve those around us! I’m learning that’s it’s possible to be a Martha AND keep my heart on mind focused on Jesus while I serve. Of course, there’s also a time to let serving cease and sit quietly at His feet!

  2. Oh Stacy! This may be your best post so far, at least for me! I am so much a Martha! Everything in place, everything prepared perfectly, not for adoration but because I am OCD to a fault. I’m praying and working on myself to be more like Mary!! Thank you for reminding me to take time to sit down with Jesus!

    1. Karen, thank you! Sometimes when I write a post I wonder if I truly am the only one who struggles. I’m glad to know I’m not alone. Isn’t it wonderful that He’s still working on us after all these years!

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