Martha, Martha

{This is part 2 of the series - for part 1 go here}

Let the fireworks begin.

Where is Martha? Running around making sure everything is being taken care of, like you are supposed to be doing.

Where is Mary? Sitting on her bum. What is she doing? Nothing!

At least, that is what Martha sees… correction… that is ALL Martha sees... and therein lies the problem. It all appears so wrong and unfair!

Now before we hone in on where Martha goes amiss, I want to give her some props. There are a lot of things she could have done with her escalating frustration that we don’t get an indication of her doing in the passage.

She could have started whispering to everyone around her about how lazy her sister is, getting others on her side.

She could have said nothing, bottling it up, and acted out in passive-aggressive ways to punish those she was upset with.

She could have thrown her hands up and quit altogether… “Let these people try and pull all this off on their own!”

Or, she could have gone off on Mary, publicly…. oh, wait…. that she kind of did.

Enough is enough. In Luke 10:40, Martha takes action… she came to Jesus.

Although it wasn’t pretty, she came to the right person to unload all her stuff. Jesus could take all her intensity, her accusations, her frustrations, her disappointment, and her anger.

It is always wise to bring your stuff to Jesus, no matter what it is. And it doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to get there!

Martha “said.” In the Greek, the word has the idea of "breaking one’s silence and speaking against." Martha was not coming to Jesus to just enlighten Him to the situation.

This one word reveals what is going on in Martha as she took on the voice of the accuser in this unfolding scene. She came to Him to speak against Mary and Jesus. Mary wasn’t the only one Martha was upset with.

Jesus, “Do You not care?”

I know this sounds like a question, but it isn’t. The phrase is in the indicative mood, meaning it’s stated as a fact. Martha wasn’t asking a question, she was making a statement!

The phrase is in the impersonal active voice, meaning Martha had already made up her mind… "You don’t care!" It is her belief and what she is stating.

Her evidence? Perhaps it was some of the same things we look for to see if someone cares about us?

If you cared, you would see all I am doing for everyone, including for you.

If you cared, you would have recognized all my effort and recognized ME for it.

If you cared, you wouldn’t let me carry all this alone.

If you cared, you would convince this person to change and see how they are treating me.

If you cared… then You would do something about how unfair this is!

"You don’t care." That was Martha’s conclusion based on what she could see, what she felt, and what she believed to be true.

Martha was accusing, but based on the word Martha uses for "care", we see it was coming from a place of pain. The word “care” means "to concern oneself with, to be of interest to." She seemed to believe that Jesus wasn’t concerned for her, not taking an interest in her, or not paying attention to her. The antonym is revealing - "to have little time or regard for."

That is a painful belief! It doesn't feel good, regardless of who we believe is disregarding us, our feelings, our pain, our situation, etc. That pain puts you in a vulnerable spot. A place most of us would rather not be in nor acknowledge. We find a way to protect ourselves or shield ourselves from it.

Anger, as a self-defense mechanism, is a common reaction when we are in pain. Many times we don’t even register we are in pain - we kind of deny that part - but it comes leaking out anyway. Typically in aggressive, passive-aggressive, or manipulative ways.

Martha had a BIG and glaring indicator that she was coming from a place of hurt - her reactivity. It seemed to be obvious to all but Martha.

Whenever we are reactive, we need to take a moment and reflect. Something is going on!

Don’t ignore it.

Don’t slap a spiritual platitude on it.

Don’t try to escape from it.

Face it... look at it... bring it to God.

Let’s pick up the scene - don’t miss this - Martha offers Jesus another chance.

"Tell Mary to get up and help me!"

That word for “tell” is the same exact word for “said” we saw earlier.

Martha is not-so-gently encouraging Jesus to break His silence and speak against Mary...."Straighten her out Jesus."

Martha felt absolutely and unequivocally right. She is literally correcting God. Gotta hand it to Martha, that takes some moxy!

It’s crazy when you think about it. Our drive to be right and win totally eclipses our desire to have harmony in our relationships. Relationships that mean something to us, that we don’t intentionally want to harm. But that is exactly what we are doing when we staunchly stand by our rightness.

When Jesus answers Martha, one of the words he uses is “troubled," meaning to obscure. Martha’s mind was cloudy, obscured from seeing clearly. She thought she was reading the situation correctly... she was not.

That is what happens when ALL we see if our rightness. When it is at the forefront and we push others to see it. We don’t see clearly, even though we adamantly believe we are. It’s scary how blind we can be.

Martha wasn’t crazy in her observations. The blindness was in regards to her own heart and what was more important. Martha was willing to utterly damage her relationship with Mary and Jesus to win in this situation. Her relationships weren’t at the forefront, her rightness was.

I heard a quote years ago that has stuck with me, “If you are in an argument and you are right, you should probably repent.”

Why the need to be right? Because the alternative is, we are wrong. Being wrong brings humiliation and a sense of failure. Rightness can easily become a core feature of our identity and we will go to any length to protect it and our fragile ego. It’s probable we were shamed early on when we were wrong so we vowed we would not allow for that again.

Let’s move along in the progression… If I’m right (which, let’s just be honest, I usually am) then I am justified in whatever it is I am about to do or say!

I have every right to show that I am right and get the issue corrected, no matter the damage. And there will be damage! Sometimes to the point of being irreparable. People can only take so much of our “rightness.”

The problem escalates when we stop actively caring that it will damage that person and the relationship. Or we do care, but not enough to stop from saying something - always saying something.

What we are doing is putting that person in a place of being wrong… a place of humiliation, failure, less-than… the very place we are trying to avoid! Someone has got to be right here, which means someone has got to be wrong. We narrow life down to only those two options.

Martha felt justified to break her silence and publicly call out Mary and Jesus.

I am betting the response she got was NOT what she was expecting! My guess is she thought Jesus would clue into what was going on, validate her, and tell Mary to get off her bum and help.

It must have sent an absolute shockwave through Martha when Jesus corrects her publicly and not Mary. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and the humiliation for Martha in that moment, much less the confusion of it all. "How did I see this so wrongly? What am I missing here?"

No doubt she was completely dumbfounded. She anticipated an advocate in her corner, not an opponent. But, Jesus wasn’t opposing Martha. God is always for us, whether we see that or not. But, I’m betting she didn’t feel that in that moment.

In verse 41, Jesus reveals that her heart was her opposition, not Him.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things.”

In the Greek - “You are anxious.” It is the quality and quantity of the care Jesus is addressing here. It is an anxious care. She cared a little tooooo much. And that anxious place caused her to be overwhelmed and worried about many things.

The other word Jesus uses is “bothered” which means an "uproar, disquieted mind." Martha was stressed out! The antonym is to be still, quiet, or at peace. Martha was nowhere near at peace.

Martha is a clear example for us of a progression from doing to venting. This is a common ploy of the devil to disrupt peace and bring division.

When we are upset and just let it fester, it will come spilling out in one form or another. If you think the people around you don’t know you are upset about something, you are fooling yourself. They feel it, which, let’s be honest, we want them to. "If I’m not at peace, then they shouldn’t be either."

We are stressed out, peace is gone, and a seemingly righteous indignation regarding others creeps in and gets a strangle hold on us. Our vision gets cloudy and all we see is all that is wrong and or all who are wrong.

The script of "this is so unfair" in its varied verbiage runs unchecked in our minds, which leaves us wide open for resentment to settle in our hearts. Resentment is a multilayered emotion that is a mix of disappointment, anger and fear.

It is on autopilot for many of us and something we must bring into awareness if we are going to defeat it. If we don’t, then the next thing you know it is spilling out... while feeling right and justified in doing so. Grace, mercy, and forgiveness go right out the window and we will defend ourselves and our position, no matter the cost. And, there is always a cost.

Jesus intervenes! He intervenes not just for Mary, but for Martha’s welfare as well.

Jesus came to bring freedom. Often, the freedom we need is from our own chains…the ones we put on ourselves. We need something different… something new!

This is why spending time in the Word, talking and listening to God, and seeking out others to speak into our lives is so critical. We often don’t see our blind spots and we need to if we are to get free of what lurks in the shadow of them.

Join me next time for Martha, Martha Martha as we wrap up the series.

~ Heather

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Who made heaven and earth,

The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever.

Psalm 146:6