For a holiday that speaks of “peace on earth,” Christmas has a way of being anything but peaceful. We shop ’til we drop, decorate and clean, prepare for guests, attend multiple holiday festivities, and bake until we can bake no more. As a wife and mom, I get it. We want to make Christmas special for our loved ones and give our children memories to last a lifetime. So we make to-do lists and shopping lists a mile long and brace ourselves for the craziness. We know this isn’t God’s best for us. He longs for us to focus on Him and not stress about the things of this world. So how do we be like Mary and choose to sit at our Savior’s feet when it comes to a holiday designed for a detail-oriented Martha?
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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.” – Luke 10:38-42
- Invite Jesus into your home. Martha may have lost her focus once Jesus was in her home, but let’s not forget that she was the one who invited Him in the first place. This was undoubtedly the most important and life-changing decision of her life.
- Make your preparations… but don’t let yourself be distracted by them. “But Martha was distracted with all her preparations…” It wasn’t her to-do list that was the problem, rather it was the fact that it gained control of all her focus and attention.
- Don’t allow resentment to take over. As Martha grew distracted with her work, her priorities shifted and she began to resent Mary. The Bible doesn’t give us specifics as to why Mary wasn’t helping Martha. Perhaps this was a common thing in their household. Or maybe Mary usually helped her sister, but in this rare scenario found herself wrapped up in what Jesus had to say. Nevertheless, as Mary enjoyed her time with Jesus, Martha became angry and resentful towards her sister.
- Never underestimate how much Jesus cares. “Lord, do You not care…” Martha was quick to assume that Jesus would not care about her troubles. But I love Jesus’ response, “Martha, Martha…” Saying her name twice meant something. He did care, more than she could know. Yes, He corrected her thinking, but He did so with a tender and compassionate heart.
- Prioritize your to-do list. There is nothing wrong with having to-do lists. They help us to stay on task and be organized. But Martha allowed the preparations to become more important than the guest of honor. Establish clear priorities this holiday season and keep the most important things at the top of the list.
- Be flexible. As I prepare my to-do list for this holiday season, God has been reminding me of two simple, yet profound words… it’s okay. It’s okay if something has to wait until tomorrow to get done. It’s okay if things are perfectly decorated. And it’s okay to say no to holiday festivities that add stress rather than joy to my life.
- Remain faithful to what’s truly important. This treads along the same lines as setting priorities. But it’s one thing to establish priorities and another thing entirely to keep them. I KNOW what’s really important, but do my actions back up this knowledge?
- Be like Mary and choose the “good part.” If someone were to ask you what the “good parts” of Christmas were, what would you say? Celebrating the birth of Jesus, spending quality time with family and loved ones, giving to those in need… don’t allow the preparations to take away from the “good parts” of the holiday season.
- Know that Jesus is hoping you’ll choose the “good part.” Some might say that Mary was being selfish. After all, she was allowing her sister to do all of the work while she sat at Jesus’ feet. And when Martha asked Jesus to intervene, she probably felt like she was being more than reasonable in her expectations. But Jesus would not take away the “good part” from Mary. He wanted her to have it… and He wants us to have it as well.
- Watch and wait for Jesus to speak life into your holiday season. Sit at Jesus’ feet this Christmas. Listen and expect Him to speak. And don’t allow the preparations to distract you from all Jesus wants to say and do in your life.
Choose to be like Mary this holiday season… be willing to set your to-do list aside if needed to sit at the feet of your Savior.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.