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How the Story of Mary & Martha is a Story for Us All

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Recently one morning before heading into a busy day of meetings, deadlines and endless cups of coffee, I was struck with a question that completely wrecked me: When did my love for Jesus lose its vigor? As I began to dive into that question, several others began flooding to the surface as well: Did I begin equating what I was doing with my love for God? Why hadn’t I been spending consistent time with Jesus? How could I change that?

Doing does not equal a relationship

Doing does not equal knowing.

Doing does not equal intimacy.

Doing does not equal love.

Instantly the story of two sisters in Luke 10 came to the forefront of my mind. Mary and Martha were contrasted in how they went about their relationship with Jesus—Mary sat with Jesus in awe while Martha was consumed with accomplishing tasks for Jesus. Both women were in His presence, both women knew Him. Yet only one was acting in relationship with Jesus.

As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” {Luke 10:38-42}

While Martha scurried to check everything off of her checklist, she ignored Jesus, missing out on spending time in His presence, missing out on enjoying her relationship with Him. Mary, on the other hand, set everything aside. She had one, singular focus: to know Jesus. Period. She wasn’t worried about “doing for” Him, she prioritized getting to know Him.

You know what I discovered? I had picked up my Martha mindset and set aside my Mary heart. And that’s a dangerous place to be in. That’s not a place I want to take up permanent residence in. That’s not who I want to be, the posture I want to embrace. I don’t want to be so caught up in doing for Jesus that I miss getting to know Him entirely.

I’m beginning to see that the times my love for Jesus is lacking its passion are rooted in the posture of my heart and my mindset. When my mindset begins tipping towards simply doing and overpowers my heart for knowing, everything gets off balance.

So what do I do? How can I trade my Martha mindset for a Mary heart?

  1. Get back to the basics. Set your alarm clock. Read a chapter in Proverbs. Journal your prayers. Sing your favorite worship song. Go on an adventure outside. Simply put: get in His presence.
  2. Probe the murky areas of your heart. What has you tangled up in knots? What are you worried about? What are you stressed over? What is keeping you awake at night? Identify those trigger points and clean your system. Get in the trenches, journal, talk with a trusted advisor, and take those areas into the presence of Jesus. Breathe out the muck, inhale His peace.
  3. Identify your Nos. What do you need to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to unrushed time with Jesus? In saying “no,” we ultimately are setting aside our Martha mindset and preparing to embrace our Mary heart.

It’s time to get things back in order. It’s time to, like Mary, set everything aside and sit at the feet of Jesus. It’s time to lay down my Martha mindset and embrace my Mary heart. It’s time to live in “being,” and not so much “doing.” It’s time.

What do you need to do today to lay down your Martha mindset and embrace your Mary heart?

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