“Patience is a virtue” is a quote that I have heard over and over. It certainly had its challenges for me growing up in a household with 11 other siblings that’s for sure. However, even in smaller households patience could prove to be daunting as well.
Mary and Martha, sisters in the Village of Bethany, were as different as “night and day.” Mary, noted for being a “true worshiper”, and Martha, noted as a “devoted servant”, had their ups and downs especially when it came to running the small household. They also had a brother, Lazarus. Martha was the oldest, while Mary was the middle sibling, and Lazarus was the youngest of the three.
One thing that they all had in common was that Jesus was their cousin and according to some writings, Jesus often visited with his “cousin” family on a number of occasions. In Luke 10:38-41, it tells us that while Jesus was visiting at their home, Martha became concerned that Mary was not helping to prepare the food and all the preparations that had to be made upon Jesus’ arrival.
Martha approached Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (verse 40 NIV).
Jesus answered her saying, “Martha, Martha. You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (verse 41 NIV)
While growing up in my family, I was one of the older siblings and helped with the chores around the house. My oldest sister loved to cook and helped my mother in the kitchen preparing meals. I was often “stuck” babysitting my younger siblings and can remember feeling that my chores were “many” compared to my sister’s. We would often get in a disagreement as to our responsibilities. My mother often told us that our responsibilities around the house were equally important and she appreciated our willingness to help.
Jesus appreciated Martha’s willingness to prepare food for his visit; however, he felt that Mary took time out from the busyness of the preparations by listening to what He had to say when he came to visit them.
Often times we get so busy that we do not take the time out of our schedules to just sit quietly and “listen” to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. We have children to care for, jobs to rush to, chores, meetings to attend, and other responsibilities that crowd out “times to sit and reflect upon God’s grace, love, and mercy.”
Martha was trying to be the perfect host rather than taking the time to listen to what Jesus had to say when he visited this family. John 11:5 tells us that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus”. Martha was just trying to be “the hostess with the mostest” and prove that she was the hallmark of the family and could run the household.
How does this all relate to “patience”? When Martha reacted to Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet by grumbling, Jesus told her not to be upset by Mary’s actions because she had “chosen what was better”. Mary was eager to learn all that Jesus had to say and she could not do this if she were running around the house trying to “make preparations” for Jesus’ visit. Patience on Martha’s part was needed after Jesus’ response to her being upset.
Sometimes a little patience goes a long way in how we react to the circumstances around us. Patience is not an easy virtue to attain. Sometimes when we ask for it, we get “troubles” and things that make us lose our patience instead. That is when we have to stop, thank God for helping us to “learn” patience in our lives, and then continue to believe that he will develop this characteristic as we grow in his knowledge and his word.
I know that there have been many times when I have had to re-learn lessons about patience in my own life. God continues to chisel out the things in my life which helps shape the person that he wants me to become. That, my friends, is a “work in progress” every single day. But thanks be to God who gives me all the help that I need to “become more like Him.”
May the Lord bless you and give you the desire of your heart as you continue to live for Him.