About Martha

There are certain people that I really feel for in the Bible, people who I feel got an unfair shake, are maligned, or got a bad rap.  Job is one of them.  Imagine being at the wrong end of a cosmic bet.  It makes the movie Trading Places look like peanuts.  Or think about Jonah.  Who could blame him for running away from being missionary to the enemy?  And what about Hosea?  What would you do if God said to you, “I have a wonderful woman for you to marry.   And oh, by the way, she’s a hooker.”  And then we get to Martha.  You know her: Mary and Lazarus’s sister.  Was toiling away in the kitchen when Jesus and the rest of the gang were out having fun in the living room.  And just think about it: if she hadn’t been cooking, they would have starved.  Or at least they would have until Jesus turned candles into bread.

Meanwhile, Mary was hanging out with the rest of the irresponsible gang, listening to teachings and what-not.  Now, we all know that there was a lesson to be learned—that of fellowshipping with Christ is most important.  Yet the challenge to me is that I, and many of my colleagues, are in Martha roles in the church.  We’re the administrative versions of cooks in the kitchen.

So what do we do about it?  Just stop our work?  I doubt that would do the trick.  For some strange reason, the master of the universe has entrusted stewardship of the Church’s assets to us for us to manage instead of snapping his fingers and making everything work out.

Now, we know that Jesus had a very specific message for Martha at this gathering: the prophetic nature of Mary’s actions and the importance of our fellowship with Christ.  But I think that there’s something else that went on at the event, as evidenced by Martha’s complaint.

I suspect, and this is purely speculation coming from a guy who has neither a theology degree or a psychology degree, is that the part of the problem is in Martha’s answer—”Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”  It sure sounds like a bitter, resentful response to the situation to me.

And that brings me to what goes on in my own heart at times.  My perception of others’ work is that they have it easier, while the reality is that I don’t see the struggles they go through.  All I see are my challenges and why it’s unfair.  Or I look at people whose careers took them to Wall Street and then ask myself why God didn’t take me that direction.  “After all God, if you had directed my career to Wall Street, I’d be a zillionaire and could give you a lot of money!  And I know you need my money!”

Ha!  Who’s lying to himself?

Well my friend, the reality is that we are both in God’s service—you in your ministry, and me in this weird financial / administrative world where I’m in a back office.

My encouragement to both of us in this post is to remember who we are serving, why we are serving, and not forget that we too need moments where we finish preparing our behind-the-scenes work and allow our hearts to fellowship with Christ.


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