I was reading a few blogs this morning, when I came upon this wonderful post about Mary and Martha. Towards the end, the writer says:
Before I end though I have to say sometimes I think we're all too hard on Martha after reading this story. If you go on to John 11 you'll see that when their brother Lazarus was sick she was the one that ran to Christ while Mary stayed in the house, and she made this testimony of her faith:
"Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God..."John 11:27
I was struck by this, because I had never connected the two stories in this way. I always read the Mary/Martha story and remind myself to be Mary. Jesus applauded Mary's choice. Mary was the 'good sister' so to speak.
All this time, I was missing the bigger picture.
Jesus praised Mary. Jesus taught Martha.
And, best of all, Martha learned. Jesus criticized her and held her sister up as a shining example of what was right. If you have ever pointed out one child's success to the sibling just not getting it, you know it can lead to negative feelings. If you have ever been the child compared unfavorably to your sister or brother, then you get an idea of what Martha must have felt.
I can vividly remember fighting with my sister and being told by my mother, "You are older. You are supposed to set an example." That made me so angry. I wanted to scream and stomp and fight. My little sister was no angel. She was partly to blame. Why was I the one being singled out and punished. Not fair. Not fair. Not fair.
Martha, however, does not respond that way. She doesn't stomp back into the kitchen or slam the trays of food onto the table or even break china against the wall. She doesn't argue either. She listens to Jesus as He reprimands her. Then, later, we see the story of her running to Him when Lazarus dies, and we realize she learned. Jesus spoke, she listened and changed.
Perhaps Mary is not the hero in this story. She already had this Jesus stuff down, but she was also the first to doubt Him when He did not show up before her brother died. Martha, on the other hand, had a wrong attitude to begin with, but when Jesus convicted her, she listened and made the change He said was needed. When they meet again, she is a different woman.
In my prayer and study time, lately, I have felt very convicted. I have a sharp tongue with my family. I don't set out to, but I don't set out not to either. I am lax with my grace-giving as a wife and as a mother. I am Martha, and Jesus has spoken. Now, will I listen and change?