“Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus — the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served …” John 12:1-2a (NLT)
It’s been said that my sister, Binu, and I look a lot alike. Some people say we act alike, too. Yet as similar as we are, we also have our differences.
Since we were young, there’s a part of me that’s always wanted to be like her. She’s smart and silly, easygoing but grounded. She connects easily with people. Ask our circle of girlfriends, and they will each tell you Binu is her closest friend.
Me? I’m more on the introverted side with forced extroverted moments. I’m pretty sure the word “easygoing” has never been used to describe me.
Growing up with a sister can stir up many comparisons. There’s a pair of sisters found in Scripture who dealt with that, too: Mary and Martha.
Maybe you know the story:
Martha invites Jesus over.
Martha starts working.
Mary starts sitting.
Martha starts complaining that Mary isn’t helping …
Martha was the distracted, busy one. Mary was the one who chose the “better” thing, as Jesus said. He commended Mary, but He called out Martha.
I’ll be honest — I can relate way more to Martha. Anyone else?
Let’s fast forward a bit. It’s a similar scene — Jesus comes over again. What will Martha do this time?
“Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus — the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance” (John 12:1-3, NLT).
Oh, come on Martha! Didn’t you learn anything the last time?
This is a well-known passage because of what Mary did. Jesus said her act of worship would be told for generations to come. Then, there’s poor Martha, just being the same old Martha.
Or was she?
Something had changed. This time, she wasn’t complaining. In fact, the word served in the original New Testament Greek means, “caring for the needs of others as the Lord guides in an active, practical way” (emphasis added).
During Jesus’ first visit, Martha was distracted because she was focused on her sister. This time, Martha was focused on Jesus. She was caring for Him in a way she was designed to do.
Both sisters had this opportunity to be with Jesus just days before His crucifixion. It may have been in different ways, but they both served Him.
All of us Marthas need Mary moments (and likewise, many Marys could use some more Martha), but that doesn’t mean we have to deny how God made us. I can spend a lot of time wishing I was like someone else and working hard to be that particular way. However, there is so much freedom in knowing that God knew me before He formed me … and He kept me this way regardless.
He knew that messy closets would drive me crazy, and file folders, bins and baskets would make me happy. He also knew I’d be a bit serious and intense, but it all could be used to serve Him in my own unique way.
“You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something” (Psalm 139:15 MSG).
How has God wired you? Strive for growth, but embrace who He made you to be. The world needs Marys and Marthas, you and me.
Heavenly Father, I thank You for how You have uniquely created me. I believe You designed every part of me for a purpose. Help me to use it all for Your glory and serve You with joy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
1 Corinthians 12:4, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.” (NLT)
1 Corinthians 12:18, “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (NIV)
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