Matney: The best Mother’s Day gift
Dear mother: No one could ever accuse her of being just a pretty flower on the wall. No, Martha was an efficient, hard-working manager of her household. Scripture tells us that Martha opened her home to Jesus and his disciples. She welcomed them into her home and began to prepare a meal for them. And, she wanted to bring the best food and hospitality her affluent home had to offer.
On the other hand, Mary might have been just a wallflower. She seemed to be willing to let Martha do all of the work while she sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to him. Martha became resentful that her sister wasn’t helping prepare the meal. She came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
The fact that Martha became resentful may indicate that she was serving Jesus and the disciples more from a sense of duty rather than from a heart overflowing with love. Perhaps that is a gauge by which we can test our own motives for serving others. Do we do it without resentment?
Scripture tells us to offer hospitality without resentment. The New Living Translation of 1 Peter 4:9 is very clear: “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.”
However, dear Martha wasn’t serving from a cheerful heart. She might have been serving from a depleted energy level, pouring out from an empty cup, rather than from a heart overflowing with love, joy and peace. But she wasn’t cheerful.
But, what about Mary? Did Jesus tell her to get up and help her sister prepare the meal? No. He very lovingly said, “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.”
Now, this story of Martha and Mary, from Luke 10:38-42, doesn’t tell us what happened after that. Did Mary feel guilty and get up and start helping Martha in the kitchen? Or did Jesus tell some of his disciples to get up and help Martha?
I have wondered why Jesus didn’t tell some of his disciples to get up and help Martha. I mean, after all, they got to hear him teach and preach all the time. Now they needed to get up and put into practice what he had taught them by serving others. But Jesus said that Mary, and probably the others sitting around listening to his teaching, had chosen the better thing and it would not be taken from them.
So, you may ask, as I have, what if Martha had taken off her apron, washed her hands and sat down and just listened to Jesus as Mary did? Who would’ve prepared the meal? Who would’ve set the table? What if we all just sat at the feet of Jesus? How would any work get done?
Jesus said in John 6:29, when asked a similar question; “This is the work that is needed; believe on the one the Father sent.” God’s will is that we sit at the feet of Jesus, listening, learning, trusting and obeying what he says. If we can get that one thing right, much of our other work will be so much easier and we can serve God from a heart overflowing with love.
I suspect that if Martha had gone and sat with Mary, and listened to Jesus, and allowed herself to be nourished, she and Mary both would have gotten up with hearts full of joy and worked together to prepare the meal. I suspect John would’ve started the fire, Peter would’ve gone and caught a few fish. And, knowing Jesus, I suspect he would’ve pitched in and helped. He would’ve boiled some water, or, he might have just multiplied the fish and the little already prepared and saved everyone a lot of work.
I’ve seen him do it over and over. Our responsibility is to sit at his feet and receive from his fullness. When we do, so many other things fall into place. He makes up the difference.
So, dear Martha, dear mother, why don’t you sit at the feet of Jesus today and listen to his nourishing and strengthening words of love and inspiration and see how he serves you and your family? The feast he will provide can be the best Mother’s Day gift you’ve ever had. And then, you’ll get up and serve again, but from a heart free of resentment and from a cup overflowing with love, joy and peace. God wants this for you, dearest mother. Happy Mother’s Day.
Dan Matney is the pastor at New Life Assembly of God in Avon. Email him at email@example.com.