Martha & Mary

Open Your Bible

Luke 10:38-42, John 11:19-27, John 12:1-8, Psalm 16:1-11, Psalm 27:4

Do you ever lay in bed at night and worry? Between moving to a new city, the coronavirus pandemic, and having a newborn, in the last few months, I’ve probably done enough worrying for it to be my full-time job.

Sometimes I remember to stop, pray, and give it to the Lord. And sometimes, I stay up way too late, writing endless lists of the things I can do to make life feel a little more under control.

Have you ever been there? No? Just me, then?

If you grew up in Sunday school, at some point, you were probably taught to, “Be a Mary, not a Martha!” And though I’ve always related to Martha, she definitely gets a bad rap. When Jesus came to visit Mary and Martha in Luke 10, Mary sat at Jesus’s feet and listened to His every word. Meanwhile, Martha cleaned the kitchen; I sometimes imagine her banging pots and pans around passive-aggressively, annoyed that her sister couldn’t bother to help out, especially when company is in the house.

After hearing Lazarus is sick, Jesus waits two days before going to see him (John 11:6–7). When He arrives, Mary sits and waits for Him at the house, while Martha runs out to meet Him. “Lord,” she tells Him, “if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died” (v.21). But despite this conviction, Martha still has trouble believing Jesus when He tells her Lazarus will rise again; it’s difficult to believe beyond what she sees with her own eyes in that moment (v.24).

Finally, in John 12, we see a dinner given for Jesus before the Passover. At the dinner, Martha stays busy serving everyone, Lazarus reclines with Jesus, and Mary anoints Him with expensive perfume, filling the room with its fragrance.

Our girl Martha is busy! She worries a lot. Knowing her so well, loving her as only He can, Jesus seems to address this head on:

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things,
but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice,
and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41–42).

Through these small glimpses into Martha’s life, we see her cleaning, running a household, and serving. Martha strived to honor the Lord with her actions, but it was often at the expense of actually spending time in His presence. Meanwhile, Mary sat, listened, and anointed Jesus. While both women wanted to honor, serve, and love Him, in the end, it is Mary who “made the right choice.”

It’s easy for us to glorify Mary and berate Martha, but we all have a little Martha inside of us. She was distracted by her many tasks. But how many of those tasks did she feel like she was doing for the kingdom? How many times was she consumed by doing “all the things” instead of focusing on the one, most important thing?

Jesus looked at Martha, really saw her, and said, “You are worried and upset about many things.” Is this true of you today? Have you brought those things to the feet of Jesus? Have you laid them down, and taken time to sit and listen to what He has to say? Or are you busy, working, running around in a flurry, and getting angry at others for not noticing just how hard you’re trying? (I’m speaking to myself here, too.)

What is God doing right now, in this moment? And what does He want to reveal to you about Himself? Is it time for you to sit down, stop striving, and finally rest? Mary chose the one thing, the good part, the better portion. And we would be wise to do the same.

Abby Flynn is a wife, mom of two, and freelance copywriter living in Charlotte, NC. She loves bargain hunting and house hunting. On an average day, you can find her listening to great music, hosting a girls’ night, discovering new coffee shops, or watching the same Paw Patrol episode over and over again with her toddler.

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61 thoughts on "Martha & Mary"

  1. Alicia McCann says:

    Such a great reminder. It’s so hard to stop doing ‘all the things’ and prioritize just being in His presence

  2. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I so relate to this, especially today! God knew what I needed to hear❤️

  3. Emily Guerra says:

    This devotional was GOOD! ❤️ the message made me want to cry because of how much I relate to Martha will yearning to be more like Mary. And yet, the Lord met both of them where they were at. Jesus was not saying one was better than the other (maybe one made a more wise decision) but He saw the worth in both woman and how they had their own journey to a relationship with Him.

  4. Heather Haines says:

    Amen ❤

  5. Jessie Chatigny says:

    I’m behind on the study! But one thing I don’t want us to miss about M and M is that most scholars don’t chalk this up to pure personality as many of our sermons so today. Martha is in the kitchen because that is where social norms dictated her to be. Mary is overwhelmed by the power and presence of Christ and sits at his feet alongside the men, men who where culturally “worthy” of learning and being directly blessed. Jesus wants us at the table, ladies. The time we spend there is with us forever and can’t be taken away!!!

    1. Freyjah Fey says:

      Amen, I think you grasped a revelation of this scripture with true Godly understanding. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Kimme Bartlett says:


  7. Alexis Padilla says:

    Wow. Daily life distractions can be louder than the word of god. We cannot control many things but god has made note that if we focus our attention on him everything else will work out. I’m definitely in this boat. I pray that god gives me the patience and clarity that I need to focus on his word and spreading his word to others. I pray to be more like Mary and less like martha – god is good❤️

  8. Nicole Burgos says:

    That was a needed conviction .

  9. Sheryle Horsley says:

    I am completely Martha, worried and anxious. Totally distracted! I try to be better, be like Mary but something pops into my head and off I go. I do my best to bring all my worry to the Lord but I always seem to find more.

  10. Mindy says:

    I think this is a new addition to their website. It’s great for knowing what’s next ❤️

  11. Liza Hathorn says:

    loved today’s reading! It spoke so directly to my heart surrounding my current situation.
    Also does anyone know where to find a calendar for SRT reading plans and how to know what comes next and when they will start? I have googled and searched the app over and over but can’t seem to find anything.

    1. Moya Minns says:

      Hi! If you follow them on Instagram @shereadstruth or subscribe to their newsletter, they mention the upcoming reading plan (usually just the next one or two.

    2. Paige Nichole says:

      Hey Liza! If you go to and go to the menu, click women, then click upcoming plans there is an option to view upcoming calendar! I’m always curious too! Hope this is helpful! ☺️

  12. Traci Gendron says:

    I was awake from 3:30 am on. Worrying about my son. I know I have no control. I need to trust. I’m Martha in today’s story. Yet SRT helps me to start my day as Mary. So grateful for all you women here.

  13. Dorothy says:

    Churchmouse, your words had me seeing my sister and I holding hands listening to Christ and then doing the dishes together. Thank you, you had me crying tears of joy because right now I know my sister could use some interaction like this and so can I.
    ERB, you have me wanting to listen, obey and follow. I hope you don’t mind but I will be coping your post to my notebook so I can read it regularly. Your words are very powerful and meaningful.
    Katherine, you have giving me somethings to think about and ponder. I greatly appreciate that.
    Monie Mag, I would have never thought of it that way. Thanks for enlightening me.
    Angie, I’m thankful no one was seriously injured. “Ankles will heal and cars can be fixed or replaced,” would be what my father would tell me. I do know what you are feeling and I will be praying for you.
    Amen, Lehua, Mary Alphs, Alexis, Erin B., Mari V., Diana Fleenor, Lindsay C., Margaret Lindsey, Tessa Bryan, Terri, amen.

  14. Nancy Singleton says:

    Taylor, I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your best friend’s mom, & will pray for all who loved her.
    Churchmouse, I loved what you said about holding hands, helping each other hold tight to the Holy. It can be so easy to slip into busyness & miss relationship-with Jesus, & sometimes even with our dear ones in life.

  15. Angie says:

    Mary, Martha, and Lazarus…siblings and all friends of Jesus. My siblings and I are very different, my husband and his siblings are very different, and our sons are very different, but the longing of my heart is that each one would be a friend of Jesus. I pray that we would be found in His presence, pouring out everything we have and are, to Him and for Him, in a lost world.

    Psalm 16:6 is on my prayer wall. However, after reading today…I want to add verse 5. Verse 5 is the “cause” of the “effect” in verse 6. “Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessings: you hold my future The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

    Interestingly Psalm 27:4 is also on my wall, and is the most recent verse I am trying to commit to memory.

    I went into today anxious. I am not normally an overly anxious person. I tend to handle immediate emergencies well. Afterwards, in the thinking and continuing on is when I struggle more.In a week’s time I wrecked my car and broke my ankle (in two separate events). My two favorite things about summer, taken away from me (watching my grandchildren and swimming) quickly. I praised God through the accident. No one else was hurt. Cars can be fixed (but apparently not for 2-3 weeks). I’ll be more compassionate to others in accidents. Lots of nice people stopped and offered help. Lots of people/friends prayed. I praised God through the ankle break. I was watching my grandchildren at the time but, my one year old grandchild was in a baby swing so, she was safe. My 5 year old grandson was able to get to my phone, which had been placed out-of-reach, and no one panicked or cried (although I wanted to). My son came home only 5-10 minutes after it happened because of a random break in his schedule. And, I believe the hospital staff, who saw me two Thursday’s in a row, saw Jesus in my words and actions. My husband’s work was kind and understanding as he left two weeks in a row to take me to the hospital. And hey, I can’t drive for a month so, there’s plenty of time to fix my car now.

    But, when it came to the orthopedic appointment today I gave fear space in my mind. I shared the depths of my heart and fears with God and He answered every one. I type this with tears of thankfulness for my faithful Father, for God who is my Refuge, my Fortress, and my Friend. I know He will use these experiences for good in my life. I will understand better those who go through these kind of struggles and my prayers for them will be heart-felt and more understanding. I have a month that I cannot put weight on my leg…seems like the perfect opportunity for more time in the word and creating/planning random acts of goodness for the Savior. God is good, all the time. I am so thankful.

    This too-often-a “Martha,” will pour out the fragrant oil of praise of “Mary” in thankfulness and deep love for my best Friend, Jesus. Surely, the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places because the Lord is my portion and my cup of blessing.

    1. AnneLyn P says:

      Thank you for sharing, Angie. Praying for patience and quick healing.

  16. Nadine Hall says:

    Stomping on my toes today. I’ve been so anxious and worried about many things, especially our very unknown future. I’m far too likely to try to plan out and try to control the future when the future is in the hands of God. A song by JJ Heller has been a real comfort during this pandemic: “You Already Know.” I have found it so encouraging to remember “We talk so much these days because I have so much to say; You stay and listen even though You Already Know…You go before me, You go behind me, wherever I’m going You’re already there.” I am often worried about many things, but it helps to remember that our Eternal God is already there.

  17. Dorothy says:

    Reading today’s scripture reminded me of a book I started reading in a women’s church book group that I started. The title is “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver. Yes I said started, being a nurse my hours got changed and I ended up not being able to attend to the group any more so the book got put to the side. From what I remember of the book I did I enjoy learning how to distress and let God and Christ into my hectic life more. At that time also my sons were young and I had to spend time with them. Abby asks some of the same questions mentioned in the book by Joanna. I plan on rereading and finishing this book. Joanna Weaver also has a couple of other books that continue along this line of thinking that I may look into after I finish this one. Have a blessed day and let’s all try to have a Mary heart in this Martha world my sisters in Christ.

  18. Jenna says:

    I really love Martha, and I feel like a lot of times we reduce her to her busyness. While in Luke 10, it keeps her from Jesus, in John 11, her action takes her to the presence of Jesus. As soon as she hears he’s coming, she runs to meet him while Mary stays at home.

    It’s to Martha that Jesus chooses to reveal himself when he says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” It’s Martha who recognizes and proclaims him as the Messiah.

    I love both sisters and I think they both show how God meets us where we are and in the way that he’s designed us.

    1. Paige Nichole says:


  19. Terri says:

    I like what ERB said about Martha. To me Martha doesn’t get enough credit for her faith increasing. She knew that she knew that she knew if Jesus had been there her brother would not have died. She probably knew of Jesus healing ministry. Something took her out to meet Him and talk to him about her brother. She wasn’t thinking “out of the box” yet. In this time of strange things happening- virus that shuts down our country, riots all over country, attack on country’s heritage, murder wasps even- it is time to think out of the box and believe God can do things we may not have seen Him do before for His people.

  20. Tessa Bryan says:

    This one lesson truly touched my heart. Above all, I need to focus on what’s necessary and leave the rest at the feet of Jesus. Many times I’ve heard this story preached as a rebuke against Martha. Now I see it as a gently invitation from a loving savior to rest in His Presence.

  21. Kim Tav says:

    I thought I saw a change in Martha as well… how could she not?

  22. Ashley P. says:

    I love reading all your comments, sisters. Thank you for your willingness to share what God puts on your heart. It encourages and challenges me daily!

  23. Margaret Lindsey says:

    It seems to me there is a change in Martha from the way she serves the first time in Luke and then in John 12. The first time, her serving seems to be a reflection on herself – wanting everything to be just right so it’s evident that she is a good hostess. But in John 12 it just says that Martha served, implying to me that she is more settled now, and possibly more focused on Who the serving is for. Do I work to prove my worth or to serve Jesus and His Kingdom?

  24. Lindsay C. says:

    There are aspects of Mary and Martha in all of us. What matters is the heart behind our actions. Although it wasn’t the case in this instance, it could have easily been Mary pouring out the perfume with a sense of pride at her own sacrifice. I think of Luke 4:38-39 when Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law and she gets up and immediately begins serving. She is not admonished for serving instead of worshiping. I love that Jesus meets Mary and Martha where they are, and that He does the same for us, offering comfort, correction, or whatever we need in that moment.

    Praying for you Taylor and all those grieving over the loss of Cynthia. I’m so sorry.

  25. Diana Fleenor says:

    TAYLOR: I grieve with you and your friends family! I grieve with hope as you shared Cynthia was a believer. Yet, just as Jesus wept, it is good for us to weep with you who loved her deeply.

  26. Diana Fleenor says:

    My tendency toward being Martha-like actually comes out of being pressured (or feeling pressured) by others to be as such. I love sitting at the feet of Jesus, in his word, listening and learning. But then I wonder if I’m reaching out enough to others with the things I’m learning. Being with limited energy and tolerance to activity, if I push beyond my limits when attempting to serve, I’m actually more disabled for days. I’ve heard Martha’s voice through those who don’t think I’m “helping” enough. Thankfully this isn’t all people in my life. But, it’s interesting of how we remember the critical voices more than the encouraging ones.

    I do believe that it is good to desire for the time at Jesus’ feet to strengthen and empower us to serve others. For we are called to serve, to love others, to be on gospel mission. Perhaps what I need to recall is when Jesus told the disciples to feed the multitudes, he used their very limited resources to display the amazing power of God. He blessed the little and it turned into the miraculous outpouring of care to thousands. As I sit at the feet of Jesus today, this is what I ask him to do with my limited resources — bless it and display his glory to thousands!

  27. Lehua K. says:

    Thank you so much for all of your perspectives today! Love hearing them and learning more :)

    Taylor, I am deeply sorry for your loss.. Praying for you and your friend’s family.

  28. Ashley White says:

    I really needed to hear this today. I worry so much and try to control everything. I do work myself into a frenzy trying to control things when I should be laying all my worries and problems down at His feet. From this point on, this moment, I’m going to lay my worries and problems down at His feet. I’m exhausted from worry and overthinking. ❤️

  29. Tori says:

    Matthew 6:31-33 keeps coming up for me. This reading from Luke 10 reminded me of it again: “You worry about many things. But one thing is necessary.”…

    “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt. 10).

  30. Mari V says:

    The last verse of today’s devotion Psalm 27:4 reminded me of the beautiful song by the Maranatha singers: One Thing Have I Desired. I had to listen to it this morning. It brings back so much beautiful memories of my youth in my early days of walking with Jesus. I was definitely a Martha yesterday but I’m so glad I started my time with Jesus early in the morning. I did not stop yesterday until it was time for bed. And so many things are going through my mind but I’m laying them at the feet of Jesus because that’s the best place.

  31. Monie Mag says:

    I love the stories of Martha and Mary. They are so human. One runs to Jesus, the other sits and waits for Jesus. Both are actions we take in different situations. Mary sat and listened to Jesus and I’m sure was blessed, Jesus said she chose what was right. But Martha ran to Jesus when she heard he was coming and Mary sat and waited. Martha heard from Jesus “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live” Martha first to proclaim “I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world” I think Martha experienced Gods presence at that moment. So if we are sitting and waiting or running to God, He loves us and will meet with us and teach us great things that draw us closer to Him and bless us. He is a good God❤️

    1. Ashley P. says:

      Yes! Beautifully said.

    2. Moya Minns says:


  32. Erin B says:

    I always love this personality conversation because though Mary is praised here, we forget that “type B” people also have lots of growing to do. Hi, that’s me! I am not a worrier, or a do-er but I still often get distracted from being at the feet of Jesus, or giving him my all. I think the question for M and M is more about motivation (why) than the behavior they chose. We can do any work to the glory of God, or make any work into an idol— including the work of contemplation, worship and rest.

    With little ones at home, I’m often tempted merely to crash hard at nap time and bedtime; zone out on social media, and get some extra sleep in the morning instead of opening God’s word. The craziness in our world increases that temptation, but in reality I need to sit at the feet of Jesus and let him permeate my heart and mind.

  33. Alexis says:

    Two things stood out to me today:

    The first comes from Luke 10:40-“But Martha was distracted by her many tasks…” and Psalm 16:5- Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future.

    Distraction and worry have been my constant companion lately. I feel like I am constantly bouncing back and forth between the two as I try to balance all the things I think I am supposed to do. But I am reminded in Psalm 16:5- Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future.

    I think to myself, if I truly believed this, that God holds my future, that He is my portion and blessing, I’d probably worry less. Rush around less. Rest more. God help me to rest in You, knowing that You hold everything in Your hands. Because of this, I don’t need to worry, instead lay everything at your feet.

  34. Mary Alphs says:

    “Our girl Martha is busy!” Love it. Eloquently walking us through the life of Martha, transparently telling us of your own nature to worry, and convicting of of the one thing. I have been pondering lately how much are we abiding in Him, worshipping Him, seeking Him? For today with my growing conviction, and now your exhortation, I choose more time with Him and less time being busy.

  35. Churchmouse says:

    Yes! Running to Jesus today on behalf of the many who have requested prayer. So many are grieving and suffering. I’m running, run with me, and look into the eyes of the One who answers when we cry. Who cries with us and over us. Let’s lean into His love and ask Him to enfold us in His arms. Let us feel His heart beat with love and tender compassion for all.

  36. CeeGee says:

    TAYLOR, Cynthia/family has been in my prayers. I am so sorry for your loss. You all remain in my thoughts and prayers. May you be strengthened by hugs of comfort from the One Who loves you!

  37. Taylor says:

    My best friend’s mom, Cynthia, went home to be with the Lord last night. Please pray for my best friend and her family <3 I am heart broken for them

    1. Ashley P. says:


    2. Elizabeth Carlock says:

      Taylor, you and Cynthia’s family are in my prayers. So sorry for your loss.

  38. Susie Hubacher says:

    The thing that doesn’t get talked about is that Jesus commends Mary, but it’s a Martha world. I lean more toward Mary but it’s the Marthas that are commended in the world, even in the church. Mary appears lazy.

  39. Katherine says:

    It’s easy for me to esteem Mary for her devotion to Jesus and critique Martha for not stopping to enjoy His presence, but today and recently, I’ve recognized the FAITH Martha exhibits. At their moment of crisis, Martha runs to Jesus, while Mary holds back. And in her conversation with Jesus, Martha stands firm in her (potentially new) belief in who Jesus truly is: the Christ, the Son of God. And then she is quick to bring her sister to the Savior.

    In every encounter, Jesus meets them both right where they are. Just as He meets each of us right where we are. Today, do I need to sit down and enjoy His presence? Or do I need to run to Him in faith in the midst of the grief and agony of the world in which we live? Either way, He’ll meet me there.

    1. Tiffany Lashmet says:

      I love this—which do I need to do today? Sit or run? So good!

  40. ERB says:

    When I read the scriptures (John 11:21-27 & Luke 10:38-42) accompanying today’s read, I saw something differently than I had seen before… I saw the Martha that I have always seen, someone who didn’t believe fully, someone with doubts, who wanted to do the right thing but never did it quite “right”… but I also saw for the first time a woman of FAITH. When Martha met Jesus after her brother Lazarus died, she said to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. YET EVEN NOW I KNOW THAT WHATEVER YOU ASK OF GOD, GOD WILL GIVE YOU.” …even in the midst of her doubt and disappointment her faith SHINES!!! Something I intend to SEE and take NOTE of!!
    We all struggle everyday to grasp what it FULLY means to drop EVERY. SINGLE. THING. and FOLLOW Jesus (like the disciples did) Drop & Follow. …let those words sink in… when we give our lives to God, our life is no longer ours. It is GOD’S. And even though we may fumble through..God is not so much looking at how “right” we do things, but He IS looking at our HEARTS and our willingness to drop EVERYTHING (belief systems, paradigms & thoughts included) and just simply FOLLOW Him. Listen. Obey. Follow. The 3 most important things I have learned on this journey with our Father God. Listen with discernment (know God’s voice) Obey the Holy Spirit no matter the cost, Follow God wherever He leads you, because He knows and is bigger than any of our knowledge or plans!!
    Blessings to you beautiful sisters!! ❤️

  41. Sue Dalos says:

    May we all hold hands. Amen. ❤️

  42. Churchmouse says:

    I like knowing who the busy bees are. They are the folks you call when you want to get things done. They are uber organized and laser-focused on the goal at hand. I like knowing who are the visionaries, those who are able to both dream and discern in the midst of the ordinary of life. They are the folks you call when life is bogged down and you need a fresh perspective. I think we tend to see Martha as the busy bee and Mary as the dreamer. Given our own personalities, we may sympathize with one or the other. We need them both in society. But let’s not dwell on Mary and Martha and forget about Jesus. Whenever Jesus comes to the door, a holy moment is about to commence. Yes, Martha needs to get out of the kitchen and maybe Mary needs to get her head out of the sky. Martha could have set aside the place settings and Mary could have been more sensitive, taken her sister by the hand and made room for her to sit beside her. Jesus (Jesus!) was in their midst. Holy moments best be recognized and seized. No one should miss this moment, especially the worried ones, the distracted ones.

    Oh, Mary and Martha. Different yet much loved sisters.

    Mary, clear a space for Martha. Show her the Way when she can’t easily see.

    Martha, dinner can wait. It’s really ok.

    And when you’re cleaning up together, you can discuss all that Jesus said because you, together, were both fully in His presence. Neither of you will have missed out.

    May we all hold hands and hold tight to the Holy.

    1. Brenda Walsh says:

      Thank you Churchmouse! Spot on! JESUS ❤️

    2. Sue Dalos says:

      May we all hold hands. Amen. ❤️

    3. Rea Queen says:


    4. LuAnn Fischer says:

      Yesssss this!

    5. Oluseyi Adediran says:


    6. Jennifer Martin says:


    7. Mari V says:


    8. Rachel Brasington says:

      Thank you. Perfect perspective.

  43. Lehua K. says:

    I can definitely relate to being like Martha. Keeping myself busy but focused on all the wrong things. Some things may even be good but they are not the one thing I should be focusing on… Or rather, the ONE I should be focusing on. (I don’t like using the word “should” but I don’t know what other word to use :) and I often forget to trust and obey, to let go and stop worrying.

    I’ve had both Martha moments and Mary moments, and each day I strive to remember to focus on Him first and foremost. My audience of One, to live for Him and to live out His calling for me.