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Dear Martha

August 14, 2017 | by: Tom Kruggel | 0 comments

dear-marthaDear Martha,

Why do we find ourselves so? Distracted, that is, from the “one thing” [Luke 10:42a (ESV)] Jesus told us was “necessary” [Luke 10:42a (ESV)]. I’m conflicted… and torn up inside. I sense you are too, maybe almost incensed, especially with your sister Mary who sat still all the while knowing you stood and worked your fingers to the bone.

You manage your household well, Martha. It’s impressive. O’ the things that need to be done to keep it that way; they’re endless I know. Are they persistently on your mind, like me, always fighting for your attention even though “the bridegroom” [Matthew 9:15 (ESV)], in all his grandeur, has crossed the threshold of your own front door? I know, it just feels like there are too few hours in a day. And all those things seem so, so good and so, so important.

Good and important they are, I suppose. All, really, in the name of our love, the Savior. It’s Him, after all, that we do this for, right? I believe I’m sincere in this; I suspect you are too. Then, before we know it, our day is gone and the “one thing… necessary” has slipped away. But… we did accomplish a lot of things, and that feels kind of noble. So why the tension? Frankly, why the surprising, but also tender and loving, censure from our Master?  

Here’s what I think: Surely He needs us and what we have to offer, so do as much as we can while we can. But the more I mull that over, I think not. I wish our brother, Charles Spurgeon, were with us right now. He’d say that “… Christ does not stand in need of you half as much as you do of Him!” [Spurgeon, Charles; Spurgeon’s Sermons, 1915, Volume 61, Page 3].

This makes me wonder who I’m really doing all this for. Is it me? Or, is it Him? “Do”, we can, but first and only because of “the great love with which He loved us”. [Ephesians 2:4b (ESV)] Grace, not angst, liberates our service. And what does our misguided thinking and doing get us anyway? Nothing but “care” and “trouble”. [Luke 10:41 (KJV)] I’m glad our good friend and physician, Luke, wrote down those piercing words of reminder from our Master.

Martha, I also wonder whether you and I ought to just mind our own business. Mary, and so many like her, may also be doing a good thing even though it doesn’t appear there’s much doing. We now know that, right? Because Jesus said so. And I guess there might also be a part of us that hopes our activity pleases Him more than our inactivity. We now know that to not necessarily be the case either.

I’m concluding, Martha, that you and I are a lot alike and need a lot of things in order to be happy. Isn’t it gratifying when our house is in order, when our family is put together, when we’re able to stay ahead and keep our eye on all of the pots at the same time so that none of them boils over?

We’re known and recognized for this. And in the back of our minds we tell ourselves that, when everything is done, we can slow down, relax and listen, choosing “...the good portion” [Luke 10:42b (ESV)]. But the load never stops piling up, does it? We’re always playing “catch up”, while at no time ever really catching up. Too many things, right? I guess that’s why our brother Augustine wrote, “All of sin is disordered love.” [Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Book 1. Chapter 27.] The things we want and do aren’t wrong. It’s just that we want them in the wrong amount and do them in the wrong order. What if there was just one?

Which brings us to the profound pursuit of the “one thing… necessary” – sitting at the feet of Jesus, where you found Mary that convicting day. In spite of hospitality’s helter-skelter demands, Mary chose to take time away from your time. She was fully aware of her surrounds, let it go and sat. What appeared to be insensitive was actually sensitive. Her position of submission to Him and His word rather than you placed her under the foot of His authority, not yours, in every possible way; physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

tom-kruggelNow that I think about it, Martha, it should be no surprise to find Mary there because she was always there… at His feet, that is. She anointed at His feet and she washed His feet [cf. John 11:2]. She knew what it meant to abide in Him and He in her [cf. John 15:5], from the man who never lived “by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” [Matthew 4:4 (ESV)], the man who attacked every aspect of life with His Father’s words.

Mary was desperate for Him and what He had to say, above all else. And so are we, Martha, so are we. It’s just that our distractions desensitize our desperation, and Mary’s desperation distracts her toward Him.  

Martha, “… the good portion…” [Luke 10:42b (ESV)] is with us too, “… which will not be taken away”. [Luke 10:42b (ESV] May Jesus help us both to always choose it [cf. Matthew 6:33] before the distraction chooses us.

Warmly in Christ,


P.S.: Oh, and by the way Martha, what great love He has for you. [“Now Jesus loved Martha…” ~ John 11:5a (ESV)]

Thomas Kruggel is a non-vocational Elder at Grace Bible Church and works in the City of San Francisco