In Luke 10 we meet Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Jesus was their friend and in their home teaching. Verse 39 says, “She (Martha) had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was continually listening to His teaching” (AMP). Mary seated herself at the Lord’s feet to learn. In those days, only disciples would sit at their rabbi’s feet to learn. Today, as His disciples, we still need to be sitting at His feet to learn from Him. We need to take time away from the distractions of serving and being busy about His work to be poured into. The more you pour out, the more you need to sit at His feet to learn.
In John 11, we run into these siblings again. Only this time, Lazarus has been dead four days. Martha ran outside the village to Jesus to confess, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give to You.” She went and got Mary. Verse 32 says, “When Mary came [to the place] where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” They had the same confession, but different positions. Mary submitted to God’s will by falling at Jesus’ feet. We can speak in faith, and even believe in faith, but we must also submit at the feet of Jesus to His will.
Finally, we meet the family again in John 12. Jesus had returned to their house a week before He was to be crucified. Martha was serving and Lazarus was reclining with Jesus. Then in verse 3 it says, “Then Mary took a pound of very expensive perfume of pure nard, and she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” When we worship at the feet of Jesus, it releases a fragrance that fills Heaven. We must take time to honor Jesus with our expressions of worship at His feet. There’s a time to serve, a time to recline, a time to learn and a time to worship. In each instance, Mary was opposed by others for her act at His feet. It didn’t stop her. We can’t let others keep us from the feet of Jesus. It is a critical place all believers must take time to be at. It won’t just happen though. We must be intentional about being at His feet.
Steven Covey taught that many of us aren’t as productive as we could be because of how we spend our time and how we manage the tasks we face. He divided up tasks into four areas. There’s urgent and non urgent, and important and not important. One of the problems many of us face is that we live in the quadrant that is urgent and important. It sounds good on the surface, but the truth is that all we’re doing is putting out fires constantly. We’re doing a lot, but we’re going nowhere. We need to be spending our time focusing on the important, but not urgent quadrant. That one will help us plan for the future and prevent many of the fire drills we face.
In Luke 10, Jesus was visiting the house of Martha and Mary. Martha was in the quadrant of urgent and important. She was busy trying to clean, cook and serve. Mary was in the quadrant of important and not urgent. She sat at Jesus’ feet to listen and learn. Martha got upset at Mary, just like people who live in that quadrant do, and told Jesus to have her help. Jesus replied, “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” (NLT). Jesus understood how tiring it gets living that way being distracted and constantly worrying. Martha wasn’t stressed out or distracted. She was calm because she focused on the right things.
Psalm 37:5 says, “Give God the right to direct your life, and as you trust him along the way, you’ll find he pulled it off perfectly!” (TPT) God knows what is best for you. Cast your cares, your schedule and whatever else is distracting you on Him. Give Him to right to guide your life. He knows what’s best for you mentally, physically and spiritually. Refocus your heart on Him, spend time daily sitting at His feet listening. You’ll find your life will be the way He intended it. Commit all your ways to Him and trust Him in every area of your life. You’ll find peace and rest for your mind, body and soul. He knows what’s best for you and will lead you beside the still waters.
In Dr. Gary Chapman’s book “The Five Love Languages,” one of the languages is Receiving Gifts. Just like verbal languages, there are different dialects. In this particular one, a dialect is the Gift of Self. It’s where you put everything else that you need to do aside for a bit and simply give your spouse your time. You may have a ton to do with deadlines approaching, however, when you put that stuff aside and give yourself to your spouse, it speaks volumes. It tells them they are more important than anything else you have to do. It signals to them that they are your priority. The Gift of Self is a powerful expression of love especially when it doesn’t come natural for you.
In Luke 10, Jesus and his disciples were visiting a small village outside of Jerusalem called Bethany. They were met by a woman named Martha who invited them to her home. Martha immediately went to work to prepare a large dinner to fed all these people. The more she worked in the kitchen, the more she realized her sister wasn’t in there helping her. Mary was in the other room sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to everything He had to say. I’m sure Martha cleared her throat a few times to get Mary’s attention,. Maybe she even gave her some ugly looks. When those didn’t work, she told Jesus to tell Mary to come help her. In verses 41-42 Jesus replied, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her” (TPT).
It’s easy to get distracted by all the things we have to do. Sometimes those things are for the Lord Himself, but what’s more important is giving Him the Gift of Self. We must choose to set aside the things we have to do in order to sit at Jesus’ feet. We must make time with Him our priority. We lead very busy lives, but when you compare the things you have to do with eternity, sitting at the feet of Jesus is what will matter most. We all can get better at managing our schedules so that we’re in control of our time. We all can get better at being undistracted while we give ourselves and our time to the Lord. It starts with making our time with Him a priority, and then building the rest of our schedule around that. When we give Jesus the Gift of Self, He does the same back to us.
Recently we were driving somewhere and our son said he had a question for us. I turned down the radio and asked what it was. He asked, “Which are y’all: Mary or Martha?” I laughed that such a question would come from a 9 year old. His question is in reference to Luke 10 where Martha is busy serving Jesus while Mary just sits at His feet listening. My wife responded, “Sorry, son. You were born into a family of Martha’s!” He asked if that was a bad thing. I explained that it wasn’t because we need both Mary’s and Martha’s. The Martha’s of the world simply need to learn to not be so anxious when things don’t get done perfectly and they also need to take time to sit at the feet of Jesus and recharge. Both types are important to the Church.
We see Martha and Mary two more times in Scripture. The next time we see them is in John 11 after their brother Lazarus had died. When Jesus showed up four days later, it was Martha who ran out to meet Jesus while Mary stayed in the house. Martha expressed that if Jesus had been there, her brother wouldn’t have died. She also expressed that He was the Messiah and could raise him up. After their conversation she went to get Mary to take her to Jesus. Mary expressed the same things. It was the other people who doubted and accused when they implied that Jesus gave sight to the blind, but couldn’t keep Lazarus from dying. After that, we read that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
The last time we meet them is in John 12, about two months later, just before Jesus is crucified. Martha was back to serving everyone while Lazarus ate. Verse 3 says, “Then Mary took a whole pint of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard, poured it on Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The sweet smell of the perfume filled the whole house” (GNT). Immediately Judas saw this as a waste of money and criticized her act of worship. In these stories, there are three types of people: one who worships with service, one who worships at His feet and those who criticize. I’ll ask my son’s question to you. Which are you? It’s all right to be a Martha as long as you’re not so busy you miss hearing Jesus. It’s all right being a Mary as long as you share what you learn at the feet of Jesus. It’s not ok to stand back from afar and criticize the way other people worship while never drawing near yourself. Each of us must worship in our own extravagant way and take time to hear what Jesus is saying to us.
Recently my wife and the Lord have told me that it’s time to start saying no to things. When life gets so busy that you’re double booking, forgetting things you’ve agreed to and are living exhausted all the time, you’re doing too much. Life has lots of demands by itself, then we start complicating it by adding things to it. If we’re not careful, we can get so caught up in doing things for our families, our friends, our churches and others that we forget to stop and rest. Worse yet, we can miss our quiet time with God.
Busyness is not necessarily a sign of Godliness. In our minds, it’s easy to equate the two, but there is a point where we just need to stop, sit down and feed ourselves mentally, spiritually and emotionally. When Jesus went to the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, Martha was busy preparing food and serving her guests. She was doing what was necessary because she had guests, but she was stressing herself out too. That’s when she noticed her sister wasn’t even helping her. Instead, she was just sitting there listening to Jesus.
When Martha complained to Jesus, His reply to her was also to us. In Luke 10:41 He said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things” (AMP). Each one of us should substitute our name for hers right there and know that God is ok with you slowing down, clearing your calendar and removing the things from your life that distract you from Him. Life isn’t about being busy all the time. It’s preparation for eternity. When you get to Heaven, you’re not going to be asked how busy you were or how much you accomplished. You’re going to be asked how well you knew Jesus and how well He knew you.