We’re friends now, right? So I can tell you that there’s a story in the Bible that kinda bothers me.
It’s the one about Mary and Martha found in Luke, chapter 10.
The short version is this: Jesus is hanging out with His crew at Mary and Martha’s house. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, soaking up His words. Martha moves into action to get things together ‘cause Jesus is there with His 12 hungry friends! But Jesus tells Martha to stop her hustling, while praising Mary for choosing the most important thing — sitting with Him. Mary chose to BE PRESENT and in the moment.
This story bothers me because I feel like it calls me out! I want to be Mary. I try to be Mary. But I’m more like Martha, most of the time.
Be honest. If this were your house, what would you do?
I’m 100% sure I’d have Jesus join me in the kitchen, where I’d prepare a cheese board for Him and His friends. While I was creating food art, I’d ask questions about His travels and miracles and all the crazy religious people He’s met along the way.
In the meantime, I’d make sure Mary kept His crew company while tidying up the living room so we could have an uncluttered place to sit together and eat.
Once the cheese board was out, my recipe app would be open to fast and fabulous meals made in minutes. Meal prep would commence.
And the whole time I’d be half-listening to everything Jesus had to say.
Does this idea of half-listening to Jesus when He’s right in front of you make you a little uncomfortable too?
The problem with being like Martha isn’t how her heart for hospitality shifts her into hustle mode to pull things together in a pinch. Women with the gift of hospitality are a wonder to watch! When they get moving, people feel welcomed and the work looks effortless — all at the same time!
Here’s how Luke records Martha’s moment with Jesus.
But Martha became exasperated by finishing the numerous household chores in preparation for her guests, so she interrupted Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.” (Luke 10:40-42 TPT, emphasis added)
Martha’s a mess! In her desire to welcome and prepare for Jesus and His disciples, Martha went all-in as hostess and became exasperated. She finished chores, but there was still more to be done (don’t we know it!). And Mary didn’t offer to help. Things were not going the way Martha thought they should.
Jesus knew her frustration... and her heart. There’s no condemnation in His response. Just love.
He sees her hustle and effort to make His visit “right.”
He sees the way she’s focused on all the details.
He sees her gift of hospitality in action (a gift He put in her).
He sees her doing everything, except be with Him.
Jesus sees what Martha can’t. He sees past the gift in action and knows she’s missing the most important moments... all while trying to make this moment important.
When you reflect on this story and think about your tendencies, can you relate to being Martha, even some of the time?
For example, when people drop by, are you quickly distracted by what’s out of place? Do you find yourself putting things in order instead of being fully present with your company?
During coffee conversations, how close is your phone? Is it in your purse? Face up or face down on the table? Do you use every bathroom break or refresh on coffee as a chance to check text or email, maybe even Insta stories for a minute?
When you’re on the phone with a friend whose filling you in on the details of her life, are you also folding laundry, cleaning, planning dinner or responding to emails? Do you mute the call so she can’t hear you working?
In face-to-face conversations, are you looking at the person while your mind wanders to your grocery list, kid’s schedules, or the next appointment on your calendar?
We know it’s hard! We struggle at times to be fully present.
What’s even more difficult is the process of reconnecting. You might be surprised to learn that it can take up to 23 minutes to regain focus after being distracted.
That’s a serious connection gap!
In the world of relationships, this gap can be felt, heard and even seen.
When Jesus went to the home of Mary and Martha, He wasn’t there to watch the hustle of hospitality. He was there to spend time with them.
In the moment, Mary sat. She connected. Mary gave Jesus her full attention. He was her guest, and the moment was all about His presence there, in her home.
Martha moved. Her actions followed distractions. And with every chore, her focus was more about making things right, rather than being present.
In this season filled with celebrations and invitations, you can be on the move, even when you’re sitting at lunch with a friend. There’s an abundance of distractions that make it easy to miss important moments.
You may want Mary moments, but no amount of trying can ever make you Mary. You have to choose to be her.
To be more like Mary means choosing to connect.
It’s an intentional choice to be fully present with the people in your presence.
When you choose to be present, you decide to set aside your chores or email, even though there’s still more to be done. You put away your phone, turn off the TV, and give your full attention to the person or people around you, regardless of what’s playing or who’s calling.
Being present is a choice to stay a little longer in laughter with friends. To see the mess in your home and leave it when your kids want you to come and play right now. It’s staying up late in good conversation, leaving the dirty dishes for tomorrow.
So take a deep breath.
Every decision you make to be present this season is a choice to build life well.
Choose to be present. It’s a wonderful gift.
Everything else can wait.