"Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me." But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Lk. 10:38-42).
Three mistakes Martha makes -- mistakes we all can make -- in her ministry to Christ: First, her work for Christ overshadowed her devotion to Christ. The number one hindrance in the ministry many times is the ministry itself. What Martha did and what the moneychangers did (Jn. 2:16) -- albeit from vastly different motives, incurred a similar ministerial rebuke. Our greatest duty requires our greatest devotion -- not our greatest service. Great accomplishments come from resting and waiting -- something simple, but not simplistic (2 Cor. 11:3-4).
Second, a common ministry doesn't equate to a common burden. Mary and Martha were both sisters, sharing the same house, the same social status, the same income stream -- just not the same burdens when it came to spiritual realities. While every servant shares a common faithfulness (Matt. 25:21,23; 1 Cor. 4:2), not every servant shares common talents (Matt. 25:14ff). Expect someone else to feel what only you are responsible for, and the end result will be murmuring and complaining and even resentment toward the Lord. It would have been easy for those laboring in the field all day to assume that it was someone else's turn to work when they came in (Lk. 17:7-8), or to receive higher wages when compared to others who started late (Matt. 20:10-11). Both assumed similar ministries meant similar work loads or rewards from the Master.
Lastly, strength for ministry comes from our labors, not as a result of our labors. Martha labored in things that bothered, worried and distracted her -- vices that rob of strength in ministry. If the Master gives the work, He will certainly give the satisfaction. You can't labor in the flesh hoping for a spiritual outcome (Gal. 3:3). You feed others only with bread you yourself have labored to eat and enjoy.
So may the Lord keep your eye single as you labor among those who may fold their arms in laziness (Matt. 25:26), or among those given far greater talents of Christ's rich mercies and fellowship. Your joy and your ministry is in Him and Him alone -- a lesson Martha and Peter (Jn. 21:21-22) learned the hard way, and the moneychangers never learned at all.
- Mark Lacour