“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”

Psalm 5:3

Mistakenly Maligning Martha

(Please read Luke 10:38-42)

August 7

Sunday lunch at the church building today is much easier to handle than it used to be. But one thing hasn’t changed: It has usually been the women who got the food ready and took charge of the cleanup later. And generally they have handled these chores with an efficiency and grace that the men can only marvel at.

When Jesus and his disciples came to Martha’s house, her job probably was harder than those of women faced with feeding a crowd in modern times. It’s understandable that she called for help.

From her brief exchange with Jesus, some preachers and writers have come down hard on Martha and shamed many a good Christian homemaker into wondering whether what she was doing was worthwhile.

In truth, though, Martha was not an unspiritual person. She made one of the most forthright confessions of faith in Jesus as the Christ to be found in the New Testament (see John 11:27). And Jesus did not deny that Mary had neglected her household duties; he simply pointed out that she had honored a higher duty. The moral is not that household work and food preparation are bad, but that sometimes even things as important as these have to be deferred to make time for the word of the Lord.

The lesson is not about housewifery but about attitudes and priorities and whether Jesus is first in our lives. The same lesson could be drawn from many other activities we encounter often, things which are worthwhile or even essential. Instead of knocking Martha, let’s learn the real lesson here, then look in the mirror and apply it.

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