Mary, Martha and Fairness


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 10:41-42 NLT)

Mary, Martha & Fairness

There has always been a false dichotomy between Mary and Martha – one a busy activist and the other an admirable contemplative. The more I’ve watched them in action in the Gospels I find them both attractive figures, complex and full of surprises. But they don’t fit the stereotype.

Martha has hosted a dinner in her home and takes care of everything but because her sister just sits with Jesus, the pots start banging louder in the kitchen. “Don’t you care about this unfairness?” an exasperated Martha barks at Jesus. “I’m doing everything.”

Although Martha on other occasions demonstrates a deep friendship with Jesus and a strength that Mary lacks, she’s like many of us – she loses the plot. Jesus needed both forms of hospitality – food and drink, safe environment and conversation with friends.

Instead of enjoying her meal preparations as a gift to Jesus – her way of expressing love, she made it a competition. We can learn from these two women that Jesus sees all work as valuable. But he cares more about our deepest intent in whatever work we are given to do, not the task itself.

 A Prayer for Today

Loving Father, thank you for the ways you give me to serve you and those who come across my path. They aren’t the same as anyone else’s. Preserve me from envy and competitiveness – grant me the heart of a servant and let my work be a prayer to you this day …. for Jesus’ sake