Vol. 12 No. 7 July 2010
Are you a Martha or a Mary? Luke 10:38-42 records the account of Jesus visiting in the home of Martha. On this occasion, Martha was busy serving her guest while her sister Mary sat listening to Jesus. Martha went to Jesus complaining that she was doing all the work and requested that Jesus send Mary to help her. Instead of Jesus sending Mary to assist with the food preparations and serving, He gently rebuked Martha for her misplaced priorities. Jesus stated, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42). Martha was concerned with the physical while Mary was focused on the spiritual. Jesus commended Mary for her interest in spiritual matters and gently rebuked Martha for her focus on the physical aspects of life.
Other Bible passages show that Jesus was interested in the physical well-being of humanity. There are numerous examples throughout the Gospel records of Jesus healing the sick and feeding the hungry (Matthew 8:1-4, 14-15; Luke 6:17-19; Mark 6:35-44; John 4:46-54; etc.). Many individuals believed on Jesus because of the miracles He performed (John 2:24). John 20:30-31 gives the reason Jesus performed these miraculous events, “…that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” Jesus healed the sick and fed the hungry for the purpose proving His deity. Jesus also gave power to the apostles to heal the sick and to cast out demons (Matthew 10:1, 8). Furthermore, Jesus taught that those who failed to help those in need were not his followers (Matthew 25:34-56).
Inspired instruction in the epistles mandates the need to care for the less fortunate. James says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). The word “visit” in this verse is more than stopping by to say, “Hi.” Faithful Christians will care for orphans and widows as needs and opportunities arise.
Paul instructed Timothy on the care for widows in 1 Timothy 5:3-13. The church has the responsibility to care for older widows who have no family to care for them and if they have proven themselves to be faithful servants to God.
These are just a few examples in the New Testament of Christians helping those in need. However, every instance in the Bible of showing compassion on the less fortunate is a byproduct of living a Christian life, not the purpose of our Christian life. Just as John recorded the purpose of Jesus’ miracles (John 20:30-31; John 2:24), the purpose for our caring for others is to prove our love and concern for the spiritual soul as we provide for physical body.
Jesus taught that He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Before His ascension to heaven, the instruction Jesus gave the apostles was to make disciples (Mark 16:15-16), using miraculous power to confirm the Word (Mark 16:20). Caring for the physical body was not their purpose for reaching out to others; their mission was to teach the lost the way of Salvation. Feeding the hungry and healing the sick were byproducts of their job on this earth.
The mission Jesus gave the apostles carries forward to all Christians (past, present and future). Our first priority is to seek and save the lost. We need to be more concerned with lost souls than with caring for the physical body.
Benevolence and evangelism can go hand in hand. However, we need to guard our attitude and ensure that we are more concerned with the lost spiritual soul than caring for the immediate physical needs of orphans, the hungry, the homeless and the devastation caused by natural disasters. Martha was concerned (rightly so) with feeding the physical body. Mary was interested in feeding the spiritual body. There is a place for both as the Christian serves God. I encourage all Christians to examine themselves in this matter. Are you more concerned with the picture of the dirty, hungry child who if died tomorrow would be in Abraham’s bosom than with the adult whose soul is destined for an eternity in hell if we fail to give him spiritual food to save his soul? Are you a Martha or a Mary?
There is one God, the Father, who is above all.
There is one Jesus, the only begotten Son of the Father.
There is one Holy Spirit.
There is one Bible, not to be tampered with.
There is one faith, which has been revealed from heaven.
There is one body, the spiritual family of God.
There is one Head, which governs the body.
There is one Lawgiver.
There is one hope unto which Jesus’ disciples are called.
There is one baptism, the baptism of the Great Commission.
There is one Gospel, the power of God unto salvation.
There is one cross around which all men must gather.
There is one Judge of all men.
There is one fountain of love, which is God.
There is one Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
There is one mind, the spirit of unity, unto which Jesus’ disciples are called to embrace the doctrine of Christ.
There is one strait gate and one narrow path that lead unto eternal life.
There is one wide gate and one broad way, which lead unto destruction.
God has words of caution for us living in this modern, pluralistic society. God has words of rebuke for the false prophets and teachers who advocate there are many ways to heaven. Jesus says to all of us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).