Martha Who Served

One cannot help being struck by the amount of attention and criticism the incident in the home at Bethany, as recorded in the tenth chapter of Luke, has called forth at all times, but surely at the present day it has reached its climax. How many disputes have arisen around it, how many a Martha has been taunted, how many a Mary has been extolled,—yet we read in John's gospel that "Jesus loved Martha." The picture is so simple, so natural,—the honored guest, Martha the busy housewife, and Mary the thoughtful sister. How then did the irritation arise which caused Martha's demand, as recorded by Luke, beginning, "Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?"

There are hundreds of Marthas who understand full well the reason of her distraction. The student of Christian Science can see that she had fallen among thieves, the thieving thoughts which beset the path of every material householder,—the desire to please, the worry of fetching and carrying, the flurry and impatience, the many petty vexations. No one can suppose that Martha had no desire to sit at Jesus' feet as did Mary; it must have been this longing which made the "much serving" so irksome, and called forth the remark which sounds like an expression of envy. Had Martha been indifferent to the Master's words, she would have been lost in her preparations, and only too glad to have the opportunity of preparing a creditable meal. On the other hand, had she been on a higher plane of spiritual perception, she would have done her work less obtrusively and would have hugged her divine secret more closely as she watched the wrapt attention of her sister to the words falling from the lips of our Master, the spiritual householder.

It is interesting to read again Martha's query and our Lord's reply: "Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Much of the seeming petulance of Martha's demand is softened as its spiritual sense is gained; indeed, the question sounds almost like a desire for instruction, and Jesus' reply surely contains none of that caustic condemnation to be found so frequently when others pass judgment upon the Martha-spirit.

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Principle Precedes Method
March 23, 1918

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