38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Gina was almost always there, tidying up the room where the coffee hour took place, setting up for the VBS, taking a turn on the altar guild, sweeping the sidewalks in front of church. She was one of the congregation’s invaluable worker bees. I never really learned her whole story, but I understand that she had had several occasions in her life to rely on Jesus. He had come through for her and she was serving Him with her broom and cloth and the smile with which she did her work.
We read the famous little story of Martha and Mary today. Jesus seems to have some hard words for poor Martha, but I think we have too often misheard Him ourselves. Jesus does not chide Martha’s task, as if Mary has undertaken some higher or more spiritual endeavor. Jesus chides Martha’s attitude, her anxious and troubled heart. I am sure that Jesus and his disciples ate the meal that Martha prepared for him, enjoyed the clean house, and may have themselves pitched in to serve one another.
Are you one of those people who like to serve in the background and let others do the teaching, preaching, or more visible sorts of service? Do you enjoy facilitating the success of ministry that way? Jesus commends you today. The better thing that Mary chose is the thing that she did with joy, she listened to Jesus, but it is not the listening that was better than the serving. Martha’s problem was the attitude in which she served. We don’t know all that troubled Martha, but her service was rendered in bitterness and frustration.
Are you in a job at church which you don’t like or which you resent? Talk to your pastor or someone else who can help you. Paul tells us that God loves a cheerful giver (II Cor. 9:7). He also delights in the service, no matter how humble, of the person who cheerfully serves. Jesus once took up a towel and washed His disciples’ feet. He understands service and will find someone to do that task or perhaps it does not really need to be done. It is His church, and He has that responsibility. He may be calling you to something else which will give your heart joy.