“But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me” (Luke 10:40).
As we read this passage in Luke 10, we may see Jesus as an inequitable house guest, allowing one sister to serve him tirelessly while the other merely sits next to Him. Note Martha’s question: “Doss thou not care?” The truth is, Jesus “loved Martha” (John 11:5) and cared so much that He would use the opportunity to teach her and us the key to Christian service. Jesus said to her, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41). Jesus did not address what Martha was doing, but what she was thinking about while she did it.
“Careful” is being anxious to the point of distraction; “troubled” takes its meaning from a crowd milling around in every direction. This was Martha’s state of mind as she served. Jesus told her, “But one thing is needful.” (It would have been ludicrous for Jesus to say only one task is necessary when one has house guests; however, only one thing is necessary in all tasks we do.) “And Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (v.42). What was Mary doing? She “sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word” (v.39).
Many things can be taken away from us, but if we have heard God’s word and have made it part of our lives, then that word can never be taken away. “The word of the Lord endureth for ever” (I Peter 1:25). When God’s word is the basis of our thoughts and our service, we shall never “suffer loss” in the fire that shall try men’s work to see “what sort it is” (I Corinthians 3:13). Martha wasn’t wrong because of what she was doing, but because of why she did it. Mary served her Master far better by showing us we need to first sit at “Jesus feet,” the source of service. CJH