What If We Have Martha All Wrong?

Martha by Alexia Wardell

The following post was written by Alexia Wardell and is shared here with her permission.

Have you ever heard anyone say “Be a Mary, not a Martha?” I feel a little bad honestly for Martha, I think she sort of gets a bad rap.

In the 10th chapter of the book of Luke, we read an account of a visit Jesus Christ makes to Martha’s home. Mind you, the scripture does state that this is her home, and as such it would have been her duty to make sure that her guest felt welcome and was taken care of.

So while her sister is sitting at Christ’s feet listening to the Savior, Martha was bustling about getting things done.

As the story goes, after Martha complains to the Savior that her sister isn’t helping, Christ gently rebukes her and tells her that her sister, Mary, has “chosen the good part”. It seems pretty straight forward. Don’t be a Martha. Don’t get so caught up in the busy work you forget to include the Savior.

Martha by Alexia Wardell
Martha by Alexia Wardell

As I have pondered and studied this account, I felt the spirit teach me something new about Martha. Upon careful reading of the verses, I noticed a few words I had not really considered before. We are told that “Martha was cumbered about…” Do you know what it means to be cumbered about? It means to be troubled.

Later, as Christ is gently (or so I imagine) responding to Martha he says “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things…” The footnote to “careful and troubled” is interpreted as worried.

What if we have Martha all wrong? What if Martha, like so many of us, was stressed about things going on in her personal life, or even in her community? I know when I personally get bogged down with life, I have to engage in an activity that expels my energy. I even sometimes get grumpy at those I love. When I keep my troubles and worries to myself, they tend to grow and fester.

When the Savior responds to Martha, telling her “but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” I don’t feel like he is rebuking Martha for working or serving. Nor do I feel like he is comparing Martha to Mary in faithfulness. I think he is gently telling her to bring her worries to Him. He is letting her know that she does not have to be “cumbered” but that she can lay her troubles at his feet and find peace.

I feel like the Savior is trying to tell each of us the very same thing. 2020 has brought on some chaotic, stressful, and extremely hurtful times. Yet, through it all, the Savior is still reaching out to us, asking us to lay our burdens at his feet and trust him.

We don’t have to be troubled, but we can be trusting. My hope and prayer is that we will do just that. Trust that God is in control, and when we are feeling overburdened with life and the events surrounding us, we can leave them at the Saviors feet and know that he has experienced all we will feel, and therefore knows exactly how to help us feel the peace during the storm.

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