Inspirational Women: Mary and Martha of Bethany

Patience is a virtue

“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.



Inspirational Women of the Bible: The Samaritan Woman (Woman at the Well)
Living Water

“Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.”–Esther 4:14

Several months ago I was given an opportunity to share a sermon about the woman at the well (the Samaritan woman). Since I am writing and sharing about inspirational women of the Bible, I thought I would share her story with you.

Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. The story of the woman at the well is a classic, three-fold story of salvation with Jesus being the witness. First, you have a beginning (confrontation), a middle (conversation), and an ending (conversation) between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. It is a dialogue between two people and a conversation with a sinful woman whose life will be changed forever (conversion) after one conversation.

In John, 4:1-4, it tells us that Jesus left Judea and went back to Galilee and had to go through Samaria. (Keep in mind that most Jews avoided Samaria because of their prejudice and hatred of the people who were a mixed race of Jews and Gentiles.) But not Jesus. He was unaffected by the prejudices of the Jews because there was a woman he needed to see and talk with.

He went to a town called Sychar and waited by Jacob’s well and about the sixth hour (noon) he sees her coming, and in verse 7 he asks her for a drink of water (his disciples had gone into town to buy food).

Background on the woman: Normally the women went to the well in the morning when it was cool. Because this woman was alone and came at the hottest time of the day indicates that she was a social outcast which is evident later in verses 16-18. She was hated by her own people.

In verse 8, it says that when Jesus asked her for a drink she was amazed that a Jew would ask for a drink “from a woman”, let alone a Samaritan woman. (It was considered inappropriate for a Rabbi to speak to a woman in public.)

In verse 10, Jesus then offers her a drink of “living water” but at this point she is not ready for this living water (salvation) and asks where she can get it.

In verse 11, they talked about the water. He tells her that she can drink from Jacob’s well every day and she would still get thirsty and would have to come back for more. He tells her that he can give her a drink of water that will forever satisfy her.

In verse 15, she asks him to give her this water. But first they talked about her sinfulness. Jesus asks her to go and bring her husband back, and she says she has no husband.

In verse 17, he tells her everything about herself. She had five husbands and the one with whom she lived was not her husband. This information clearly makes her “sit up and take notice” that perhaps Jesus is a “prophet.”

In verses 19-20, they talked about worship. She tries to start an argument about the proper place to worship, but Jesus tells her that “true worship” is never found in rituals and substitutes for God; it can only be found in spiritual worship–from his Spirit (verse 21–worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth).

Jesus simply reveals himself and it was what she needed to understand. Then in verse 25, she acknowledges that “when the Messiah comes (Christ) he will explain everything to us.”

In verse 26, Jesus declares that “I who speak to you am he.”

Then Jesus’ disciples return and are surprised to see Jesus speaking to a woman, but
“they did not ask Jesus why”. (verse 27)

In verse 28, Jesus reveals himself and she responds in faith; and her salvation was immediate (conversion). She leaves her water jar behind, runs to the town and testifies that she just met Christ and that he told her everything she had ever done. She met Jesus and was forever changed. The men saw her “transformation.”

In Proverbs 22:1, it tells us that “a good name is more desirable than great riches; to be respected more than silver or gold.”

Jesus gave this woman a “new name”. Her past would no longer define who she was or would become. First, she was transformed by the renewing of her mind and God filled her emptiness and cleansed her heart. Secondly, she was no longer immoral (sinful) but a child of God. Finally, she was no longer disgusting/rejected/ostracized by her people, but she was now forgiven and accepted.

In verse 39, it tells us that because of her testimony, many believed. In verse 40, they asked Jesus to stay for two days; and through his words, many more became believers. Verse 42 says that they met the “Master and Savior” of the world.

Three truths that can be learned from Jesus’ dialogue with the woman at the well:

  1. First, Salvation comes to those who recognize their need for the spiritual life that they don’t have. Living water is obtained by those who recognize they are spiritually thirsty. John 4:14…”whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
  2. Second, Salvation comes to those who confess and repent of their sin and desire forgiveness. Romans 10:9-10: “But if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
  3. Third Salvation can only be found in Jesus. John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

I leave you with the beautiful words from the hymn (chorus), “Fill My Cup Lord”, by Richard Blanchard:

“Fill my cup, Lord–I lift it up, Lord!

Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.

Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more;

Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.”

May the Lord fill your cup with his love and strength beginning today–January 1, 2020, a new day, a new beginning, and a fresh start. Everything in the past is gone. Be a truly inspiring woman for the Lord.