Friday, June 12, 2009


I am reading this wonderful book by Joann Weaver called Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I got it from the library but I know I will have to add it to my permanent collection. Some books need to be savored more than once. There is a nice little Bible study in the back, and has God ever been stepping on my toes through it!

The book takes a look at the story of Mary and Martha. I'm sure you are probably familiar with it. It's the one where Mary is sitting at Jesus' feet and Martha comes bustling in and tells Jesus to make her sister get to work instead of lazing around. Jesus gently rebukes her. I have heard quite a few sermons about this, usually with Martha painted as the bad guy (or gal, in this case). But if you look further on, there are a couple more times that this family appears in Scripture - one is at an even more famous Bible story - when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

Martha has changed from the first time we see her - distracted and irritable and frazzled. Now, even though she has a houseful of mourners, she runs out to meet Jesus. This, in itself is a big change for her - leaving work to be still. She then professes her faith in Jesus, not only that He can do anything but also that He IS the Son of God. (We sometimes take the idea of Jesus as the Son of God for granted, as in why wouldn't anyone NOT believe it? But I wonder, if I lived back then, didn't have Scriptures and some man came along with that claim - would I have believed or would I have been skeptical?) Then Martha does something that demonstrates just how changed she really is - she calls Mary to come see Jesus. She calls Mary away from the preparations and people to come be still with Jesus.

Has Martha changed her personality? Probably not. She is still a bustling, type A personality, but instead of letting her personality and natural tendencies rule her, she demonstrates she has a teachable heart. The Bible doesn't say what Martha said in response to Jesus' rebuke, but based on the changes by the next time we see her, it is obvious that Martha didn't let hurt feelings or the need to be right keep her from being teachable.

My first response was, of course I'm teachable. I love to learn new things. But God gently rebuked me, too. How many times do I defend my position on some matter or correct people when I have the "right" information? Is it really necessary to correct people if it isn't something important? Why do I need to be right all the time? Would I rather be right than loving? How many times have I gotten a "feeling" about somebody and then have it turn out right - am I sorrowful for the situation or do I feel vindicated that my "feeling" was right? And while many times my motivation is to help someone, I can't deny that sometimes I just feel smug satisfaction that I proved someone wrong and won the argument or point.

Don't get me wrong - I am not saying if someone is walking around spouting false theology we should just pat them on the back or if someone is blatantly walking in sin, we shouldn't ever confront them. Priscilla and Aquilla are a good example of this - they gently rebuked and corrected a fellow believer when his preaching was off - but they did it in love. Rebuke and correction should always, always, always be done in a spirit of love and concern for the other person. The Bible says to "speak the truth in love." Love is not always all fuzzy and sweet and sometimes, if we really love someone, we may have to say something that is hard for that person to hear.

However, if any part of you starts to feel self-righteous or superior about being right and the other person being wrong, it is probably better to keep your mouth closed. Galatians 6:1 Paul says, "Brethren, even if anone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted." In other words, you better check your motives before you proceed.

Martha had a teachable heart. She was able to put aside her personal feelings, really listen to what Jesus said and let those words soak into her innermost being and change her. How many times do I resist letting God's Words soak into me and affect change because I want to be right or get defensive? May God grant me a soft, teachable heart and a humble spirit to receive even the rebukes.
~ Blessings, Bronte

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