Martha, Martha, Martha

{This is part 3 of the series - for part 2 go here}

Martha had a lot going on and all at the same time!

She was overloaded with responsibility that she took on herself.

She was disappointed in both Mary and Jesus.

She was right in her own mind and brewing in resentment.

She felt justified to lash out and take matters into her own hands.

She was expecting Jesus to agree with her and correct the situation... but that was not what she got.

We cannot gloss over how painful this lesson had to have been for her. No matter how kindly Jesus said, "Martha, Martha," it stung!

Jesus humbled Martha and did so publicly. Jesus reveals Martha’s heart to her and exposes her beliefs and feelings. She gets some very valuable insights that we need to consider for ourselves.

Are expectations eclipsing and tainting your reality?

Perhaps you have heard this quote: “Expectations are premeditated resentments.” It is hard not to have expectations. They just come so naturally to us. When we believe our expectations will bring a certain end, we run headlong into trouble, especially when they are not realistic.

Martha was “troubled” according to Jesus. She was annoyed, frustrated, anxious, and angry, all rolled up in one tight bundle.

Life does not always turn out the way we planned or the way we want. And since God is more interested in our character than our comfort, we may run into disappointment more than we expect to.

In relationships, thinking that our expectations of how a person should behave will somehow make it come true is utterly unrealistic. They may have NO interest in living up to our expectations. And, trust me on this, they know they are not living up to them. Unmet expectations that lead to disappointment will spill out and damage our relationships.

Be aware of your expectations as best you can. When you feel disappointment, stop and seek to understand why. Take some time to sit with the pain, sadness, anger or whatever emotions come up. Don’t ignore it, it’s not going away. Take it to God or another and talk about it.

And then, at some point and at some level, let it go. It is doing you no good. It is not your friend. Instead replace it with gratitude. (Phil. 4:6)

Do you have to be right? Do you feel the need to correct others and or their behavior?

If you are not sure you do, ask someone close to you... they will tell you.

They may feel judged, criticized, less-than or insignificant in your presence. I’m sure this isn’t your intention, but you have to understand this is what is being communicated and it is very damaging! When we are attached to how right we are, it is always for our sake. Letting go of that, is for the others sake.

A great question to ask ourselves, "Is this for me or is this for them?"

This is where we need some straight up honesty. This is about power and control. We feel a need to be in the "power-over" position for whatever reason. It’s not being right that is the problem... it’s the need to be right.

It is not easy to let go, especially if it is an entrenched mindset and frequent behavior. This is coming from a very deep place and something that has to be yielded to God and prayed over… constantly for some.

But, it is a choice. And we have the ability and power to make it because of the Spirit inside of us. Even when you think you are seeing clearly, take it to God, and not into your own hands. Come and yield… that is where we are set free from the weight of expectations, disappointments, resentment, and it damaging effects in our relationships.

I have begun a habit in my prayer life of saying, “I don’t want to be right, God.”

It is my feeble attempt to surrender my rights in exchange for His better.

Is resentment eating you up? Are you angry a lot?

Resentment is bitter indignation of having been treated unfairly.

It is a poison that we drink and think it will harm the other. The truth is, we suffer. It will eat at your soul and take out everything in its path.

I have been sooo guilty of trying to make another suffer like I feel they made me suffer. “I want you to hurt like I have hurt.” Sound familiar? We have all done it and some are actively doing it.

Resentment is one of the biggest destroyers of relationships!

In Matthew chapter 18, Jesus tells us resentment and the unforgiveness that follows puts us in chains and we are tortured by it. Anger and bitterness combine to create an energized attitude of “You will pay," as we refuse to reconcile until certain criteria are met, if we do it at all.

By the way, it may not show up as being that aggressive. Resentment may just slowly under the surface, but steadily leak out.

It leaks out in a look of disapproval.

It leaks out in a quick critical comment.

It leaks out in a snide remark.

It leaks out in sarcasm or joking.

It leaks out in a bout of silence.

Just because it looks less intense, doesn’t mean it is any less damaging... for us, for them, or for the relationship.

Ephesians 4:31 tells us to "let bitterness and anger be put away" or taken away from us. It’s in the passive voice meaning we allow it to happen to us. We have to choose.

Yielding and forgiving is not easy, but it is freeing!

This is where trust comes in. Martha was concerned Jesus was not concerned about her, that her needs wouldn’t be taken care of.

It sounds like this in my head, "What about me?" Rather than resting in God and trusting He will take care of me and my concerns, I take matters into my own hands in one fashion or another. That is a place of captivity.

God offers freedom. The very next verse in Ephesians 4 gives us the antidote and the door to freedom. Let go... and instead be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving, as God, for Jesus' sake, forgave us. What an utter and complete contrast.

Who are you doing all your service for? Why are you doing it?

Martha may have begun with good intentions, but somewhere along the way, serving became about her. For Martha, we get a clue as to what she was believing or feeling in her own words.

In verse 40 we see two different words used for "serve." Luke uses a Greek word that simply means hospitality. Martha chooses a different word altogether.

Her word in the Greek means "to wait upon, with an emphasis on the work to be done and not on the relationship.” It takes away the volunteer aspect and replaces it with obligation! This is where Martha was missing it.

It wasn’t merely about a focus on "doing over being," it was more about "doing over relating." Martha was doing all this from a place of obligation.

As for her sister? Mary "sat." Used only one time in the New Testament, the word "sat" isn’t denoting her physical posture as much as her heart’s posture; she was "settled."

To be settled is "to discontinue moving and come rest in one place." Mary was resting at the feet of the One, Jesus. In her heart, she was near Him. It is literally in complete contrast to Martha's heart.

One was resting and the other restless.

One was relaxed and the other annoyed.

One was focused and the other distracted.

One was light-hearted and the other burdened.

One was at peace and the other anxious.

One was satisfied and the other disappointed.

Are you restless, annoyed, distracted, burdened, anxious, and or disappointed?

Jesus is giving you permission to change where you are and, instead, be rested, relaxed, focused, light-hearted, at peace, and satisfied. The best and most freeing place to be is at Jesus’ feet. We don’t need to earn anything, we already have it.

Mary "heard," which in the Greek means to hear with attention. Where is your attention?

Mary’s focus and attention was on Jesus. Martha’s focus and attention was for Jesus but not on Him. And apparently the person-of-focus changes everything!

You aren’t called to be Mary, but you are given permission to make her choice. Jesus helped Martha to see that they both had a choice and Mary made the best choice.

The word for "chosen" means, "choose for oneself, not necessarily implying the rejection of what is not chosen, but giving favor to the chosen subject, keeping in view a relationship to be established between the one choosing and the object chosen." Wow!

Mary chose "relating over doing." We are given permission to enjoy God, enjoy others, and enjoy life.

Jesus makes it clear to all, it would not be taken away from Mary.

Nor will our freedom be taken from us!

~ 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