The stories about Mary and Martha are among my favorites. These sisters are portrayed in such a human and realistic way. Martha is obviously an extrovert who is quick to say exactly what’s on her mind. Mary listens and ponders (typical introvert). They also have different talents — Martha quickly takes on the tasks of organizing and serving, while Mary sits with the guests and wants to learn from Jesus. Of course, the crux of the story, the part we always remember is Martha’s cry:
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” Luke 10:40
I hear this sort of complaint often in the church, where we are also brothers and sisters. When we take on a task, we want and expect others to help us. Of course, that isn’t unreasonable, and we should be willing to do our share of the Lord’s work. However, often we don’t stop to think about the fact that others may simply be using their gifts in a different way. The member who doesn’t show up at the Yard Sale may be someone who enjoys taking a meals to shut-ins; the person who refuses to teach Sunday School may be a whiz at fixing things around the building. Some may even be involved in Christian activity we don’t know about — caring for a sick relative, or working hard in a community organization or spending hours in prayer. Of course, you probably also remember how Jesus answered Martha:
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful; Mary has chosen the good portion which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41
The Bible tells us to use our gifts to build up the church, and to be cheerful givers. It doesn’t tell us to worry about what others are doing. Sibling rivalry doesn’t help anyone. If we focus on our own gifts and calling, we won’t feel aggrieved or envious of others; we’ll be joyful and fulfilled. We’ll have chosen the needful thing.