Charles Spurgeon – Martha and Mary


“Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is necessary: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’ ” Luke 10:38-42

It is not an easy thing to maintain the balance of our spiritual life; no one can be spiritually healthy who does not meditate and commune, and no one, on the other hand, is as he should be unless he is active and diligent in holy service. David sweetly sang, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures”; there was the contemplative. “He leads me beside the still waters”; there was the active and progressive. The difficulty is to maintain the two, and to keep each in its relative proportion to the other; we must not be so active as to neglect communion, nor so contemplative as to become unpractical. In the chapter from which our text is taken we have several lessons on this subject. The 70 disciples returned from their preaching tour flushed with the joy of success, and our Savior, to refine that joy and prevent its degenerating into pride, bids them rather rejoice that their names were written in heaven. He conducted their contemplations to the glorious doctrine of election, so that grateful thoughts might sober them after successful work; He bids them consider themselves as debtors to divine grace, which reveals unto babes the mysteries of God; for He would not allow their new position as workers to make them forget that they were the chosen of God, and therefore debtors. Our wise Master next returns to the subject of service, and instructs them by the memorable parable of the Good Samaritan and the wounded man. And then as if they might vainly imagine philanthropy, as it is the service of Christ, to be the only service of Christ, and to be the only thing worth living for, He brings in the two sisters of Bethany. The Holy Spirit meant thereby to teach us that while we ought to abound in service, and to do good abundantly to our fellow men, yet we must not fail in worship, in spiritual reverence, in meek discipleship, and quiet contemplation. While we are practical, like the seventy; practical like the Samaritan; practical like Martha, we are also like the Savior, to rejoice in spirit, and say, “Father, I thank You,” and we are also like Mary, to sit down in quietude, and nourish our souls with divine truths.

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