More Mary, Less Martha – a different view
I am always convicted by the story in Luke 10 of sisters Mary and Martha and the common comparison between them. However, there’s another Mary comparison that I’d like to explore.Let’s Examine Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
As a refresher, the story in Luke 1 goes like this: Mary is betrothed to Joseph. (Historically, betrothal was viewed essentially as marriage, but the couple did not participate in the full benefits of marriage until the wedding ceremony was over.) The angel of the Lord appears to her with these words beginning in verse 28 of the NIV, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!” He reassures her and says in verses 30 – 33, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.” Mary reminds the angel that this can’t be, since she is a virgin. The angel responds with the reassurance that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and the power of the Most High will overshadow her. He informs her that her cousin Elizabeth is also pregnant, even in her old age, because nothing is impossible with God. If I were Mary, I’d have been thinking, “This presents some problems. While it’s all very exciting to have found favor with God, I’m concerned. At the very least, my child and I will be outcasts from society, Joseph will divorce me, my family will disown me, and at the worst, I could be accused of adultery and stoned to death.”
However, notice Mary’s response in verse 38: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
I’m challenged by her faith-filled reception of the Angel’s pronouncement, and her willingness to accept WHATEVER God had ordained.
This is in stark contrast to what I often do when facing something God ordains with which I do not agree. Perhaps you can relate.Who’s in Charge Here?
For example, it seems to me that God is pretty clear about who serves in leadership in his church — men. I realize that many disagree. I hear men and women argue all kinds of things to the contrary.
I’m not trying to prove that point here. I’m more interested in measuring myself against Mary’s gracious, faithful acceptance of God’s pronouncement — that ensured hardship, unfair treatment, and agonizing grief.
I want to be a woman who responds to every truth in the Bible with, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” The NASB says it like this: “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.”
And then, like Mary, rather than rehearsing all the possible ways this could turn out poorly for me or how I’m being mistreated, go on to rehearse the goodness of God! That’s the woman I want to be.
Even if you don’t agree that God says that only men can serve as elder/pastor or deacon in churches, and women only in supportive roles, I challenge you to play a game with me. What if it does? As we should with any Biblical text, rather than first assess how this makes us feel — slighted, treated unfairly, the church deprived of our wisdom and knowledge, let’s check our reactions against that of our Savior, Jesus Christ, described in Philippians 2: 3 – 8. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!”
And if there is any question about the suitable attitude when things don’t seem fair, we continue to learn of the correct response here in verse 14, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…”
When our prideful hearts rise up and demand our rights, do we respond like this in I Peter 5:5 – 6, “Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
When we set our will against our Creator, and make no mistake, that is exactly what we are doing when we choose to trust in our own wisdom over God, do we remind ourselves of Deuteronomy 32: 4 “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”
God’s word tells us what he rewards: humility, servanthood, obedience, and sacrifice. If you believe that women should serve in leadership capacities in the church, and your church denies you that responsibility, do you go ahead and use every other opportunity to serve Him with your gifts and let God determine the outcome?
Are you proving yourself a worthy servant, humbling yourself, not concerning yourself with titles, power, and authority? We are reminded in Matthew 6:1 – 4, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Would that our hearts and mouths would always respond with, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.”