You Can Do the Work of Martha in a Mary State of Mind

The Holiness of the Here and Now – Part 66

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

–Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)

Abandonment of the heart contains, within it, every kind of spiritual work. For, in this state, your existence itself is handed over to the good pleasure of God, being transported by pure love, and it stretches out to cover the full range of activity—whatever God is please to do with it. And so your soul, in each moment, exercises abandonment to infinity. Everything needed for any possible spiritual work is contained in this virtue.

–Jean Pierre de Caussade

Abandonment means discerning your duty and doing it without hesitation. One thing that could slow you down, however, is “contemplation prejudice.” This is the preference for the work of Mary over Martha.

It is true that Mary had “chosen the good portion” when she sat and listened to Jesus. But Jesus is now risen and ascended into heaven. This good portion is not limited to one physical location or activity, neither can it be measured by the absence of activity. For “abandonment of the heart,” as Jean Pierre de Caussade tells us, “stretches out to cover the full range of activity.”

Martha was “anxious and troubled,” but if her one concern was to please Jesus, she would have been at peace, even in the midst of her work. Do not hesitate to serve when duty calls, but remember that, if you are working by the order of God, you can always do the work of Martha in a Mary-like state of mind.

The Holiness of the Here and Now is a daily devotional that I am currently working on. When I am finished, there will be 365 chapters like the one above. Meanwhile, I am sharing this work-in-progress. Like the Facebook page to see content like this in your feed.