Martha-ing When I Should be Mary-ing

January 4, 2021

By Gina Padilla

While fall fades into winter, we may find ourselves doing more than we did this time last year. In addition to your already busy life, changes stemming from the pandemic may have made your life busier with virtual school or constantly changing schedules. As the demands of this season start swirling around us, our time with Jesus becomes essential and more precious.

I was recently reminded of this one day when I realized it was after 1pm before I sat down and spent some quality time with Jesus.  Sending one email, making one phone call, paying one bill and a quick work out had morphed into five hours of time. I shook my head trying to justify all the little things I was finishing just to get them out of the way before I took time to hang out with God. As I was justifying these things in my head, I thought of Jesus’ friends Mary and Martha.

Luke relates a story in his gospel in which Jesus travels to Bethany to the house of his dear friend Lazarus and his two sisters Martha and Mary. As usual, Jesus is not traveling alone, so there is quite a crowd that invades Martha and Mary’s home. As any good hostess would do, Martha rushes around preparing food and drink and making sure everyone’s needs are taken care of, while Mary sits at Jesus’ feet absorbing every word as he speaks.

I imagine that Martha passed by Mary a few times trying to get her attention. She might have even gently prodded her with her foot as she passed.  I can see her laden down with a tray piled with pitchers, goblets and plates of food, sweating, her hair in disarray and finally out of extreme frustration lamenting to Jesus:

“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Luke 10:40 NIV

In that moment, I can relate to Martha’s plight. I can imagine her irritation as her home was suddenly filled with guests and she was the only one racing around tending to them. I have felt this way myself. I want to make sure everything looks right, and everyone is taken care of when I have guests.

Jesus, who always stressed being a servant, surprisingly does not order Mary to help her sister.

“’Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

Luke 10: 41-42

What Martha didn’t realize was that Jesus was also tending to the needs of everyone at the house that day. He was tending to their spiritual needs. He was sharing his life with them, spending time with them and revealing who He was to them. Mary had chosen to spend that time with Jesus soaking up His precious words and feeding her soul.

While Jesus acknowledges there are other needs, our spiritual need is more important than any physical needs we have on earth. Sometimes I find myself thoroughly exhausted after family comes for a visit and realize often that I was Martha‑ing when I should have been Mary‑ing. Focusing on the tasks alone not only robs us of precious time with God but also precious time with our loved ones.

As we get busier with work, school activities, holidays and everything else that comes this season, let us not forget what is most important and intentionally spend time with Jesus. Let us not be worried about many things but let us choose what is better. The busy tasks will always be there, but if we don’t take time to replenish our spirit, we will find ourselves further and further from God. So, before we make that one phone call, send the one email, or dust that one shelf, let’s remember what is most important. Set aside time to spend with Our Savior and feed our souls with the One who loves us.


  1. Carol says:

    It’s so easy to get caught up in Martha-ing. Especially when we don’t start our day with Jesus. Thank you for this reminder about the importance of Mary-ing.

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