How to Be a Martha

For those of us who are the Type A-git-er-done women, the passage comparing Martha and Mary can be a problem.stress - relax

In the book of Luke, Jesus is visiting in Martha’s home. That description itself is a clue for what is to come.

This was Martha’s home. She wasn’t living in her brother Lazarus’s home with her sister, Mary. This was her place and they lived with her. So either she was a wealthy widow who inherited the house and the grounds or she was a hard worker and wisely invested her money.

Martha was a woman who knew how to get things done.

In the Luke 10:38-42 passage, Jesus travels to Bethany and Martha opens her home to him. Obviously, she also had the gift of hospitality, and she knew Jesus was an important figure in her culture. She became a disciple and a follower of Jesus.

Because she knew who He was, she wanted everything to go smoothly. She probably ordered her servants to bring the best wine. She planned a generous meal with some extra treats – something she knew Jesus would love. She made sure the house was clean and in order for this important guest. She changed into her best tunic and fixed her hair, slipped on her best sandals and probably spritzed some type of aromatic oil on her skin. She was ready to meet the Messiah.

Because she was an organizer and a planner, she wanted everything to be just right. But her sister, Mary, wasn’t helping much. Mary was spending her time listening to Jesus teach. She was right in the middle of all the guys, sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning all she could. For a woman, in her culture, it was a gift to be included in this special teaching moment.

Then Luke records what happened next, “Martha was distracted – anxious and worried – by all the preparations” (Luke 10:40). She wanted Jesus to tell Mary to come help her.

Jesus reminded Martha he didn’t really need anything, and her worries were keeping her from the most important part of the day – listening to him teach. He reminded Martha that Mary had chosen well and he would not take that choice away from her.

Several important points can be taken from this passage:

  • Jesus is including women as disciples who can learn from him.
  • Mary recognizes this gift and takes advantage of it.
  • Martha is caught up in the worries of making everything perfect for Jesus.
  • Perfectionism is not how we honor God.
  • It isn’t Martha’s work ethic that’s the problem here – it’s her lack of balance.

Sometimes Martha is used as an example of a woman who is more concerned with the work and the appearance of her home than Mary – who is content to just sit and listen to Jesus.

Sometimes Martha – and women like her – are shamed for being hard workers.

It’s not the work ethic that’s the problem. It’s the fact that Martha has become worried, anxious and distracted.

It isn’t wrong to be a planner and an organizer. In fact, without planners, much of the world’s business would never be completed.

It isn’t wrong to care about our homes and to make fabulous meals for our friends and family.

It isn’t wrong to be efficient in our work and do our best.

The problem comes when we’re stressed, overwhelmed and can’t get anyone to help us. That’s when we’re too tired to sit down for a talk with Jesus.

Finding the balance in life is the one of the most important things we can do for our mental, emotional, spiritual and even physical health.

Stress is a killer and when we don’t set healthy boundaries around our time – the world and other people will take advantage of our work ethic.

Check out this article on the effects of stress on the body.

Even something that sounds good can be an over-the-top-stressor and we need to say, “No.”

So let’s not vilify Martha, but let’s learn from her experience.

Let’s organize our time wisely so we CAN do our work effectively. But let’s also make time for joy, for some fun and for that special time with the One who loves us most.

©2016 GateWay of Hope – Hope, Healing and Wholeness for Women

Unique Women of Christmas

In Hebrew, her name “Elisheva” means God’s oath or God’s promise. In the Greek, “Elizabeth” is further described as God’s abundance.Mary and Jesus

Cousin to Mary and wife to Zacharias, she played a pivotal role in the pre-Christmas story.

Elizabeth is listed in Luke chapter 1 as a righteous and blameless woman yet she suffered with infertility. In those days, barrenness was considered a curse from God.

But what Elizabeth did not know for many years was that God had not denied her request for a child; he just delayed the answer.

Until the perfect time…until Yahweh was ready to send an angel to Zacharias and plant His seed within a virgin.

We aren’t told how old Elizabeth was when she suddenly conceived a boy child who would become John the Baptist. But she and Zacharias were both old enough to consider their answered prayer a miracle.

During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, her young cousin Mary became pregnant through another miracle – a conception through the Holy Spirit, prophesied for centuries and containing the Divine.

Mary traveled to Elizabeth’s house to spend time with her. What conversations they must have had – both of them pregnant, one with a messenger and the other with the Messiah.

Elizabeth no doubt mentored Mary even while she protected her from the wagging tongues of gossips. Mary no doubt blessed Elizabeth who felt her child leap in the womb when Mary entered the house.

After Elizabeth gave birth, she supported her husband in the choice of their son’s name. “John,” she said. “His name shall be John.”

From the beginning of the Christmas story, God included women and their giftings to pave the way for His Son’s ministry.  He designated Elizabeth as a main character and a parallel element in the greatest story ever told.

Perhaps Mary and Elizabeth spent countless hours together watching their sons grow, teaching them proper manners and showing them how to appreciate godly women.

And in the candlelight at day’s end, Elizabeth and Mary probably prayed for their boys who they knew would have a major role in the salvation of mankind.

Each woman bore a son, then gave that son back to God, trusting in Yahweh’s divine purpose.

©2015 GateWay of Hope

Finding Christmas Joy Throughout the Year

Anyone who follows me on FaceBook knows I love Christmas.Hope Tree - GW

Starting in January, I begin the holiday countdown. On the 25th of the month I proudly proclaim how many more months we have until Christmas. Those who share my joy quickly “like” the posts; others are tempted to block me.

Perhaps my love of Christmas is due, in part, to my December birthday. As a young child the 355-day wait to open presents seemed like an eternity. While my parents always maintained a separate birthday celebration from the Christmas holiday, the two are still intertwined.

And I now rejoice in sharing the same birth month as my Savior.

Or perhaps my love of Christmas is due to the temporary transformation of the ordinary. As the popular Christmas song, Silver Bells, states, common everyday street lights become holiday decorations with their green and red lights glowing at the intersection.

In residential neighborhoods, twinkling white lights decorate otherwise drab winter streets. Evergreen wreaths and bright red bows greet weary shoppers.

I can’t help but smile and feel joy at this time of year.

Perhaps it is because Christmas is steeped in family traditions. We break out the eggnog, carols, and holiday decorations the Friday after Thanksgiving and deck the halls with trees and holly.

We build Gingerbread Houses in December and then eat them on New Years. We bake our favorite Christmas cookies and enjoy sharing them with co-workers and friends.

We dust off the holiday movies and watch them throughout the season: White Christmas, Preacher’s Wife, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Miracle on 34th Street. The Italian vigil on Christmas Eve is the climax of the season.

My eldest, who shares my love of the holiday, told me recently, “Mom, you always made Christmas magical.”

She was referring to the individually wrapped stocking gifts for each and person. And Santa always visits our house, leaving something special for adults and children alike. Some may argue this is placing an improper emphasis on the holiday, but I disagree.

Christmas is magical. A young virgin was selected by God Almighty to carry His son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  From the time He was born in a Bethlehem stable until his crucifixion and resurrection, over 300 Old Testament scriptures were fulfilled.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  – Luke 2:8-14

The Christmas Story is indeed a magical fairy tale, and as JRR Tokien once said, “It is the greatest myth ever told because it is TRUE.”

Christ came to abolish the law so we might live free of its tyranny. Love, forgiveness and acceptance of others are the only rules to govern us today. Christmas Joy is indeed worthy of celebration every day of the year.

©2015 Molly Totoro for GateWay of Hope

Molly Totoro is a writer who has a heart and passion for authentic living. She firmly believes “Everyone has a story to share.” Molly helps others write their stories to impact future generations. Follow Molly’s new blog series, “How to Journal” at Revising Life after 50.

The Reason for Christmas

“Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.nativity

And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.’

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’

And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’

And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.”

Luke 2:1-16 NASB

Afraid but Available

It’s Part 1 of the Christmas story.

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. This teenaged girl from Nazareth was “greatly troubled.”

The angel said, “Do not be afraid.” He then told her that even though she was a virgin, she would bear God’s son.

A pregnancy miracle by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And what was her response to all this news? “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

Imagine Mary’s experience:
• She saw and talked with an angel
• She was told she would have a baby even though she was a virgin
• She was told that the power of God would overshadow her

Extraordinary or impossible.

Surely Mary felt afraid and confused, but look at her response recorded in Luke 1:26-38. She was willing to do anything God wanted her to do.

God had a plan, and He chose Mary to carry it out. It was an impossible plan as far as Mary was concerned. It was a fearful plan, since pregnancy outside of marriage could result in stoning.

But it was clearly God’s plan.

Mary chose to trust God and be available. She didn’t let her fear stop her from being used for God’s purposes.

What has God chosen you to do? How have you worked through the fear?

© 2012 GateWay of Hope Ministries