Martha – An Open Door to Stress (A secret look at Martha’s selfie)

“Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt

Who’s got time for a selfie? Not poor Martha. She often got the bad rap because she was ‘worried about many things.’ I imagine her selfie looking a lot harried.


Jesus was coming to their house for lunch! What an emotional disaster I would be if I lived then and knew that the Messiah was coming to my house! If that wasn’t enough, I’d know that if He was coming, other important people would show up too! I would know that people would be talking for time to come about what they had seen, eaten, and heard. (notice I think a lot like the Martha most of us imagine – first concerned about what people will see or think). Sad, but true. I’d do a lot of what Martha did, working for days, getting things just right. I’d solicit help where I could, though, because I know that some skills of mine work better under pressure, but cooking and socializing are more spontaneous (like the time I forgot the sugar in the pumpkin pie). I would be so stressed. I would not want you to see my selfie at that moment. Have you ever felt that way?


Martha was obviously stressed. Perhaps Mary and Lazarus were not as excited (or as worried) about all the details as Martha was. We can see from the passage she was not happy with others’ response to her requests for help. Yet, Luke 10 gives us a clear picture showing it was Martha who invited Jesus, and consequently his followers, to their home. Now she is overwhelmed by the results of her own choices.

Martha, Marth

Luke 10:38-41 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.

But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”


But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;

Stress is defined as the feeling a person has when they perceive that demands exceed their personal resources. First of all the story does not reveal anyone demanding dinner or anything else from Martha – the demands she felt or created were her own.


Secondly, ‘their personal resources’ in Martha’s case, would include her brother Lazarus, and her sister Mary who lived with them, and possibly other neighbors or friends who would have felt honored to prepare for the Messiah’s visit.


Martha’s actions reveal that she must also have been listening to Jesus when he preached in their area because when Christ challenged her at Lazarus’ burial place she confirmed her faith in Christ as the Messiah, and she knew about the resurrection day. I wonder -did Martha invite Jesus in gratefulness for his ministry to her sister’s spiritual change? Had Mary been apologetic, helpful and extra-kind since her experience at the home of the Pharisee?


Scriptures do not tell us all the answers, but Martha’s spiritual selfies do not always look so self-centered as I’d first thought. Here was a woman who had listened and could clearly communicate Jesus’ teachings. Here was a woman of a generous and hospitable nature who invited Jesus and his followers to their home. Had she invited Jesus before or was this the first time? Martha’s whining request seems as familiar as a toddler, ‘tattling’ on her sister. Martha had to know she was inviting a stressful crowd for dinner, because as Jesus said, she was worried about so many things. So much to do, so little time. And somebody’s got to do it – right?


Like most of us, Martha (and Mary) were multi-faceted. Their selfies would each have revealed only one part of who they really were, unlike Spiritual Selfies.

It does make me wonder, when I put myself in the story, how does my spiritual selfie look – more like Martha or Mary?

But more importantly what does my picture look like to Jesus?


The Spiritual Selfie sees what you need rather than what makes you feel overwhelmed.


Change what you can (Getting enough rest, eating properly, not going into stores if I don’t have funds all lowered stress for me). What choices could Martha have made to reduce her stress?


Zoom In – Do I have too many things on my plate?


Determine the one thing that will drive all areas of your life – spiritual, physical, mental, etc. Then make a list of what you are trying to accomplish – just today will likely be enough. Then cross off or drop the commitments that don’t line up with that main goal. Like What difference will it make in a decade if you don’t finish your list or give the perfect party? Would you rather wonder your whole life what the Savior might have said to you if you were at His feet like Mary, instead of in the kitchen frosting the cake?


Do what Martha should have done. Move the boundaries. Free yourself from the unrealistic expectations you’ve set for yourself, those you’ve let others set for you, and feel free to release others from your unrealistic expectations of them.


Capture It – On your journal page write the focus (Peace) at the top of the page and ONE THING you want accomplished by the end of the day. Remember defeating ourselves is not productive. Usually my one thing of every day is supper. Other things often fall into place – or not.



If you make peace the focus of today – in your thoughts – you should feel calmer. If you allowed peace to be the focus of your reactions, it should show.   Whisper to yourself peace before answering any questions or challenges. Ask how can I do this to bring or show peace? Feeling peaceful and feeling overwhelmed cannot coexist. One will overrule the other. Choose peace.


LIKES: We often set the mood for our home. If you are peace-full, others will comment and react differently than when you feel tense and overwhelmed. Tomorrow morning come back and write your proof – the results of your day of peace. You just might want to try it again.

And your image of Martha – and yourself might just have changed 🙂




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