Have you ever been really busy doing something at home, maybe like cleaning the house, and your spouse and children are sitting on the floor playing games while you are slaving away?

Or have you ever been spending quality time with the kids and aroused the wrath of an angry spouse because you are just playing with the kids instead of getting the work done around the house?

Luke 10:38-42 tells the story of two sisters who invited Jesus into their home for supper. As Jesus enjoyed a meal, Martha was busy serving. But her sister was sitting, listening to Jesus. There was a conflict. Here’s the story:

 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 feetlistening 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

The thing I love about this event is that when we read it, depending on how we are wired, we relate to either Martha or Mary. You will find yourself relating to or rooting for either Mary or Martha.

In this story, you might think that Mary is a lazy bum who if she would help her sister, things would get done much faster. You will admire Martha and her hard work. She has meticulous attention to every detail of the home along with a commitment to make her home a wonder picture that belongs in Southern Living Magazine. You are Martha!

On the other side of the coin, you may think of Martha as a work-a-holic. Your opinion might be that she is a whiner who is so focused on everything being PERFECT, that she cannot possibly enjoy having company because her real job is to make everyone as miserable as she is. However, Mary is doing the right thing by paying attention to their house guest, especially since it is Jesus. You are Mary!

The story of Martha and Mary is much deeper than one sister being an uptight workaholic freak and one sister who is a lazy bum. There are some principles for your family and your relationship with Jesus.

Lessons for Family and Other Relationships

1 – Different Temperaments.

We see others through our own personality and seldom allow for a different perspective. The reason we do what we do is because we think we are right. But do you realize that if someone does something different it may not be because they are wrong? Every person is different. It was Hippocrates (father of medicine) and Plato who first taught four temperaments in the 5thcentury BC. Gary Chapman explains five love languages. Kevin Leman gives insight into impact our birth order has on our personality. Some people are talkers and others quiet. Some are active and others are thinkers. Some love detail while others see the big picture. God did not make everyone alike. Enjoy it.

2 – Communication Barriers.

Did you notice that Martha did not talk to Mary? She went to Jesus (with Mary at His feet) and made her complaint. Evidently there were some communication problems. Two areas I always talk with young couples about: communication and conflict resolution. You can overcome about any family problem if you are able to talk about it. But at least Martha came to Jesus with her problem. If you have a problem communicating with someone in your family, you can always talk to Jesus about anything. Her topic wasn’t very positive, but Jesus still heard her.

3 – Unmet Expectations.

Martha expected Mary to help with the dinner. Mary assumed that once Jesus started to sit down, it was time to listen. One of the problems in families is misunderstanding. This goes back to communication. Sometimes we don’t communicate exactly what we need and want. Hurt and angry feelings can result from unmet expectations.

This is more than a story of sibling rivalry between two sisters. This is a story about our spiritual relationship with Jesus.

Lessons about our Relationship with Jesus. 

1 – Blessed are the balanced – work like Martha and worship like Mary.

Even though Jesus praises Mary’s choice, he never does criticize Martha for her work. This isn’t an either/or decision. We don’t stop our work for Jesus so we can start our worship. Do you tend to be a Mary or a Martha? One is our natural bent – don’t neglect the flipside. Balance is the key. There is a time for evangelism; a time for service; and a time for worship.

2 – When we criticize others and pity ourselves it’s time to check our drift.

Most Christians don’t rebel against Jesus – we just drift. Without realizing it we are spending no time with Jesus while still working hard for Him. The problem with sin is it is so deceptive. We can think we are right when we are wrong. So how can you tell if you are drifting. Martha’s example presents two warning signs. (1) If you catch yourself complaining a lot. (2) If you realize you are feeling sorry for yourself; no one understands you.

3 – The most important thing we can do for Jesus is spend personal time with Him.

Our work for Jesus will never replace our worship with Jesus. We are not indispensable. The world will revolve without us. Take time to be holy. You cannot serve Jesus for very long or very effectively if you neglect your time with Him.

Are you like Mary or Martha? Are there any adjustments you should make in relation with other people? in relation with Jesus?