Martha; Healing from Busyness

In Study the Women of the Bible by revealadminLeave a Comment

Have you ever sat at the end of what seemed to be a long day and thought, “What did I do today?” “What did I accomplish?” We live in a society, which has immersed itself in busyness. From work, to social settings, church, kids’ activities, meetings, boards we join, keeping up our home, shopping, television and so on, our minds are constantly busy. Are we being productive or are we just full? Are we adding to our spiritual growth or are we keeping ourselves occupied?

There is a woman in the Bible whom was busy. Martha was a hard worker, the very meaning of her name giving hints to her personality, “Martha is the feminine of moro or more, meaning “lord,” “master.” [1] She was hospitable and a gracious hosts, for we read she “received Jesus into her house”, suggesting she was its owner. Our Lord and Savior favored this warm and friendly home; “His lonely heart found in that loving, hospitable home a woman waiting to minister to His weariness and exhaustion, and from the swift-handed care of gentle womanhood Jesus received the physical refreshment He needed.” According to Biblegateway’s All the Women of the Bible, “Knowing Martha as we do, we can be assured of this fact, that whenever Jesus visited Martha’s home she never had any need to apologize for untidy rooms, a neglected household, or lack of necessary provisions. To her, home responsibilities were never a drudgery. Martha loved her home, was house-proud, kept it “spick and span,” and was ever ready to entertain her divine Guest or others seeking a refuge beneath her hospitable roof. Eugenia Price expresses this aspect of Martha’s character when she says—

The superb hospitality He found in Martha’s home was extremely important to Him. No one enjoyed her cooking more than He enjoyed it. No one found her spacious home more beautiful, more inviting. But always Jesus had the real issues in full view. Christ could not be distracted from them, even by His tired body and His human need of Martha’s services.” [1]

In all of her gifts of hospitality bestowed by God, which Martha frequently gave in full to our Jesus, she could and did overwhelm herself attending, cleaning, and busying with household work. Christ gently rebukes her busyness when she snaps at her sister Mary for not helping in time of “need”. Actually, she is distracted, anxious, and worried. The Gospel of Luke reads, “But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, is it nothing to you that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me [to lend a hand and do her part along with me]!”

But the Lord replied to her by saying, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; There is need of only one or but a few things. Mary has chosen the good portion [that which is to her advantage], which shall not be taken away from her.

“Being the one who managed the household and served, Martha found herself drawn hither and thither by conflicting cares. She loved Jesus and wanted all in the house to do their best for Him. So we have her double complaint, with the first part of it directed to Jesus Himself, “Do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?” The next half of the complaint was a command, “Tell her that she needs to help me.” This means that if Jesus were still speaking to Mary sitting at His feet, her somewhat vehement complaint must have interrupted our Lord’s calm demeanor while conversing with Mary. It irritated Martha to see Mary, cool and idle, while she was busy getting the meal ready for the visitors, and most likely their accommodation for a night or so.

It may have been that Martha was “secretly vexed with herself as much as with Mary, that the latter enjoyed the privilege of hearing Jesus’ word seated at His feet, while she could not persuade herself to do the same for fear that a varied enough repast should not be served up to Him.” It was as if Martha had said to Jesus, “Lord, here am I with everything to do, and this sister of mine will not lay her hand to anything; thus I miss something from your lips, bid her that she help me.”

Martha would not presume to call her sister away from Jesus to help. In her vexed state of mind she included Jesus in her rebuke, and asked Him to release Mary from the season of meditation to help out with practical duties. Jesus recognized that she was working for Him, but reminded her that she was permitting her outward activities to hinder her spiritually. Because of wrong emphasis regarding her necessary labor, her inner communion with her Lord was being hindered.

In her restless activity Martha felt that her sister carried “her quiet, peaceful, faith-engendered mysticism” too far. Martha, Martha, you are busy with many courses when one dish would be quite sufficient. Mary has chosen the best dish, which shall not be taken away from her. Martha was mentally solicitous, anxious with a divided mind, which is forbidden (Matthew 6:22-31; 1 Corinthians 7:32). ” [1]

King Solomon, the wisest man to live, recognizes in Ecclesiastes the uselessness of busyness, “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and behold, and all is vanity, a striving after the wind and feeding on wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:12-14) “What profit remains for the worker from his toil? I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves.” (Ecclesiastes 3:9-10)

The Apostle Paul addresses busyness with other people’s affairs in 2 Thessalonians 3:11, “Indeed, we hear that some among you are disorderly, that they are passing their lives in idleness, neglectful duty, being busy with other people’s affairs instead of their own and doing no work.” And to Timothy, Paul writes, “Moreover, as they go about from house to house, they learn to be idlers, and not only idlers, but gossip and busybodies, saying what they should not say and talking of things they should not mention.” (1 Timothy 5:13)

The Bible shows us we can be busy with work, busy with idleness, busy with gossip, and busy accomplishing nothing! To work and provide for our families is godly, to work and spread the Gospel of Christ is our ministries, but to work anxiously, worrying, exhausting ourselves trying to keep up with other people, and speeding from one place to the other is down right ridiculous.

“There is a time and season for everything under heaven. There is a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away; a time to rend and a time to sew, a time to keep silent and a time speak. Finally, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

There are seasons in life busier than others. As mentioned in God’s Word, there is a time for everything under heaven. I think the seasons become more challenging when we add to them, instead of finding God’s “rest” in them. We need to find balance in working, resting, and enjoying our life; that contentment Paul speaks of in Philippians 4:11-12, “Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.”

Martha was out of balance, drawing her into a state of anxiety and worry. Although in the presence of Christ where we find “rest”, she was full of discontentment. 1 Peter 5:8 reads, “Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil roams around like a lion roaring (in fierce hunger), seeking someone to seize upon and devour.” The Lord urges us to balance our lives; if we lean toward being unstable, the flesh will respond with frustration, anger, anxiety, worry, and stress. This is an open door for spiritual warfare.

Using my own life as an example, I homeschool three children, maintain my home (bills, groceries, cleaning), lead a small group at church, mentor three women, volunteer two services at church, write books, blog on my website, and encourage woman with daily inspiration on the Facebook group. I keep up with exercising, working out at least 5-6 days a week, birthday cards, texting my family, prayer requests, and driving my children to their activities. I am writing this loud and clear, if just ONE of these areas of my life seems to take over, where I am spending more time than usual with it, I am out of balance. When this happens, the other areas of my life feel the pressure. For example, I can get wrapped up in mentoring or writing. If I am on the phone, filling my calendar with ministering opportunities, or staying late at women’s group functions, my family suffers. The first person to recognize my absence is my husband, Tommy.

Although extremely patient with me, Thomas feels my absence in different ways. He becomes exceptionally tired,  run down, quiet, and we become distant. Our intimacy may suffer because my heart and mind are focused on other things and not being his helper and friend. When this begins to happen, I have to take a step back, pray, and manage my time wiser. I am out of balance, spiritual warfare kicks in and Thomas is the one who suffers first. I am thankful the Lord has revealed Truth in regards to my life and how to maintain all that I do. I cannot let one area control and dictate to the other areas of my life. Something will always suffer, usually the ones closest to you.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, in her book Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free, writes, “In Jesus’ words, we find a clue – a powerful Truth that sets us free from the bondage of hurry and frustration about all we have to do. Notice what work Jesus completed in the thirty-three years He was here on the earth. ‘I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.’ That is the secret. Jesus didn’t finish everything His disciples wanted Him to do. (Some of them were hoping He would overthrow the Roman government!) He didn’t finish everything the multitudes wanted Him to do. (There were still people who were sick and lonely and dying.) But He did finish the work that God gave Him to do.

The Truth is, all I have to do is the work God assigns to me. What a freedom it has been for me to accept that there is a time for to do everything that is on God’s ‘to do’ list for my days, for my weeks, and for my life!”[4]

Martha allowed serving others to dictate her feelings when Christ was teaching. She was so overwhelmed at that moment, out of balance, she actually commanded Jesus to answer her sister. Our Lord is patient and precious with His daughter’s hearts. He will touch the very area in your life where there is no fruit, but anxiety and worry. I pray this has opened your heart to think, take inventory of where your time and energy are going. Are you busy or are you working in the boundaries for which God has asked you? Are you overwhelmed, tired, exhausted, and busy in other people’s lives? Pray and lay this at the foot of the cross. God desires your heart to be at peace and balanced, not busy.

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