Have you ever felt like no matter what you do your house always seems a mess? You are running around trying to clean before people come over or even when they are over. You are so worried and distracted that others will judge you if your house does not look perfectly clean that you miss being present with the people right in front of you.
I am totally that person! I am a “Martha.” I often let my busy life distract me from spending time with Jesus and my loved ones.
My husband and I bought a house almost a year ago and it obviously comes with a lot of responsibility. I constantly feel like I am not doing enough to keep it clean. One day I spent two hours cleaning all of our baseboards, doors, and walls (eye roll!). Much needed but not enough to stress out over. On top of my stress of keeping our house clean, we have a dog who sheds a lot! So I feel like I am constantly vacuuming and mopping, yet as soon as I finish it feels like it was for nothing.
Making God A Priority In Your Life
There are so many things that fight for our attention and devotion – our jobs, our spouses, our hobbies. We must push past the desire to please other people by doing it all. Yet, we don’t want people to think we are lazy or don’t care. Our biggest kryptonite is asking ourselves, “if I don’t do it, who will?”
One of the reasons we bought our house was to host people, which I love doing, but I also want to have my house look perfect. This is a silly thought because I am pretty much freaking out over cleaning when people are going to come over and make it messy. No, it is not intentional and people are pretty clean, but I find myself following my one-year-old niece around cleaning up cereal or constantly throwing things away and making sure everyone has what they need.
It’s good to note, that Jesus did not gently point out Martha’s service but her worry and anxiety (Luke 10:41). Service is a good thing but coming before Jesus and listening to him is best. This kind of anxiety often goes unnoticed because you tell yourself it is just your natural desire to serve. However, at the root, it is selfishness driving you, because you care too much about how you will please or impress your guests than actually spending time with them and enjoying the moment.
This inevitably leads to people offering to help and apologizing for making a mess, which is the last thing I want. I do it because I want people to feel comfortable in my house, but instead, I end up making them feel like everything has to stay perfect. The whole reason we have them over in the first place is to create a place of community. We must remember what is important, making God a priority in your life.
Lessons To Learn from Martha and Mary
While in this story Martha often looks like the “bad one,” she is actually a remarkable woman. She invited a male into her home (which was not usual for that time) and welcomed Jesus and his entourage in. Welcoming them into her home involved her heart for hospitality. However, we often choose to indulge in the busyness over sitting down and enjoying time in front of God.
Like Martha, we may let our perfectionist lives distract us from spending time with Jesus. So we run around like a crazy person trying to clean everything and make sure your house does not look lived in. There is always something to do! “But Martha was distracted with much serving…” (Luke 10:40).
You are so focused on cleaning that you can feel like your husband or roommate has left you to do all the work because all you see is how much there is to do. Frustrated, you often scold them for not doing their part. It causes us to be bogged down with worry, resentment, and bitterness. “Lord do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” (Luke 10:40)
You serve out of anxiety and fear, not out of grace or even true hospitality. “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 10:41)
The point of this story is that Jesus and his word should be a priority. Mary wasn’t lazy, she was prioritizing what is the most important thing to focus on in life, Jesus. Today, we come to know Jesus through being intentional about prayer, reading the Bible, and attending church.
Cleaning, or anything else for that matter, shouldn’t be a priority over our relationship with God or even our relationship with others. The good news is that with Jesus we don’t have to settle for living in a constant state of worry and anxiety.
We shouldn’t obsess over having an Instagram perfect house. That’s not to say we shouldn’t strive to provide a house that is clean and enjoyable for our guests. However, we should keep in mind that the time spent with loved ones is the purpose, not providing a museum for them to come and see. The key to having an abundant life – His love, His grace, His peace – is keeping God in His rightful place in our priorities.
*Bible Verses: HCSB Study Bible, 2010