Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to him. She was praised by Jesus and he said she made the right decision.
Martha welcomed Jesus into the home. She was distracted by what needed to be done. She was worried and upset that Mary wasn’t helping her. She complained about her situation and Jesus chastised her. He told her that Mary had chosen what was really needed.
What was it that Mary chose that Martha didn’t have?
An attitude of worship
Jesus saw Martha’s heart though. I believe he was speaking about more than her choice to serve; he was saying that Mary had chosen to worship while Martha was not worshipping. Neither action- kneeling or serving- was wrong but Jesus knew that Mary’s heart was in the right place in her action. This passage is not about the particular actions of these two ladies; it’s about their hearts.
I can imagine there was some sibling rivalry in this situation. Maybe Martha felt like she wasn’t being treated fairly. I wonder if she felt that Jesus didn’t care about her and that she was living in the shadow of her oh-so-holy sister, Mary. Jesus knew what was happening in Martha’s heart. He did care for Martha but she was too distracted to see that.
I can relate to Martha. She felt abandoned, and sometimes I feel like I’m living in the shadow of other people’s successes. I feel unappreciated. Like Martha, maybe I’m too busy feeling abandoned and pitying myself to see that Jesus does care for my heart and appreciates my attempts to serve him.
Martha’s actions weren’t wrong. The mistake is that Martha wasn’t content with her role in worship. In this situation, maybe Martha’s role was to serve the food but she wasn’t content there. Jesus wanted her to be content and worship him in whatever she chose to do. Likewise, I need to be content and find ways to worship God in whatever role I am playing- even if that is in the background.
The heart matters more to God than the actions performed. Like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “things which matter the most must never be at the mercy of things which matter the least.” Our heart for Jesus must never take back burner to the actions that we perform.