Mary and Martha-Part Four
Mary and Martha in Each of Us


Quotes are from “Chasing God, Serving Man-Divine Encounters Between Martha’s Kitchen and Mary’s Worship” by Tommy Tenney. You can order the book on-line at:


Being Balanced

Some of us, in our personality, have a stronger emphasis, like Mary, of worship and prayer in our life. Others are more service oriented like Martha. As Marys and Marthas we need to be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Individuals who have too much emphasis on worship and prayer can become ‘no earthly good’. Individuals who have too much emphasis on serving others can become ‘no heavenly good’. Here is an example where we can become out of balance:


We are on the street ministering to the homeless.
The Mary in the group will want to pray for the homeless person. In fact, she will intercede for the person, lay hands on them, and pray and pray and thank God that He is going to meet the needs of the homeless person. The problem is the homeless person is shivering and goes hungry another day. They did not hear a word that was spoken and they still walk away cold and hungry.
On the other hand, Martha in the group sees the homeless person and runs to give them a blanket, a sandwich, and a hot cup of coffee, but never prays for the person. Martha just runs to and fro giving out blankets and coffee, and never meets the spiritual needs of the people.


A balanced approach would be:
Lord, I see many homeless people, who would you have me to give a blanket and food and afterwards pray for them? As a Mary we feel more comfortable to pray for them, but we still meet their physical needs. As a Martha we feel more comfortable feeding them, but we understand that it is prayer that brings change.


Jesus is to be our example. When He fed the 5,000 He was meeting their physical needs. When He spoke to the woman at the well, He was meeting her spiritual needs. He knew what was needed at the time.


The Priority of His Presence
Even though some are gifted and called to be Marthas, there is a time to put the towel down and worship His presence. Many times Marthas miss the move of God in their lives because they are busy ‘doing His work’ More important than ‘doing His work’, is experiencing His presence. Encountering His presence will change us and empower us to do His work in the power of the Holy Spirit. At times for Marthas, slowing down to be in the presence of God is more work than doing His work. The solution–take more time to be in His presence so it becomes more familiar. As I heard one person say, “God has made us to be human beings, not human doers”.


Many times Marthas experience burnout because they have not followed the example of Jesus. After ministering to people, Jesus would go to the Father to be ministered to and to worship the Father. If we are not careful, we will be busy working for God, and get jealous at Mary because she is not helping us. When we are feeling this way, it is time to put the towel down and join Mary in worship of our Lord.


“In God’s view, we should have no problem moving smoothly from the natural to the supernatural and vice versa. He has made us spiritual “amphibians,” equipped to breathe the air of His presence one moment and take His life into the smokey and polluted realm of man and the natural realm in the next.” P. 95.


Warning to Marys
Prayer, intercession, and worship is great. It is needed. Prayer moves the hand of God. But don’t forget the words of Jesus.

    'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; [36] naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' Matthew 25:35-36
As a Mary, be ready at times to ‘get your hands dirty’, and do God’s work. Is this hard for you? How about taking a day and working at a soup kitchen. After doing this, you will even pray more for the homeless as you remember their faces and their looks of gratitude as you handed them the bowl of soup. You will have even a stronger burden to pray for the workers.


Our last nugget on this topic will be “Mary and Martha-Revival”.


Copyright © 2001 Richard D. Dover. All rights reserved.
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Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations used are from the New American Standard Version (NAS).

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