Read: Luke 10:38-42

“But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” {Luke 10:40 ESV}

It can be like pouring cold water on a glowing fire. It totally extinguishes the burning embers of warmth.

That’s how our words can woefully change our intimacy with others.

We see friendships falter or drift, while we are left wondering why…..not even recognizing it is because of us.

When I read about Mary and Martha, I see several tendencies that come all too naturally to some of us. With the best of intentions, we can come across too harshly in relationships, causing spirits to wilt beneath the weight of our words. Each sentence can inflict a precision cut, as our tongue becomes our unintended weapon.

As we look closer at the scene, Martha is busy hosting Jesus and His disciples, which is very admirable. She has opened her home to them, exercising hospitality. Her intent is to bless others. What happens though is a different story…..

How much can we learn from the few words Martha utters to Jesus, concerning her sister Mary?

The first thing to notice is how “distracted” Martha was by what had to be accomplished. This communicates to me that she was stressed! We can all relate to how hectic it can become as we are running around taking care of all the preparations necessary for entertaining company. It is good to acknowledge the underlying emotional level of Martha before she initially engaged with Jesus.

Oftentimes, our choice of words and tone have more to do with preceding events than who we are addressing at the moment. There can be “collateral damage” as we build emotional intensity only to unload on the person our eyes lay on next. Women who are ruled by emotions, instead of controlling them, can overwhelm those around them. Friends are caught off-guard by sharp tongues and emotional outbursts. Never knowing the triggers, those close to us can be left feeling anxious whenever they are in close proximity.

Secondly, as Martha addresses Jesus, she begins with an accusation against Him! She immediately accuses Him of not caring about what her sister is doing to her. She condemns Jesus as she is trying to get Him to intervene. Not exactly the best persuasive tactic.

Martha accuses and condemns both Jesus AND Mary in the same sentence! When women regularly put others on the defense, intimacy is compromised in the relationship. No one wants to be accused and condemned, especially by those we consider our friends or family.

Next, Martha transitions into demanding from them both. She demands that Jesus help her by telling her sister to get up and start sharing in the work. Martha, in that moment, has made herself judge and jury, as she alone felt qualified with right perceptions and judgments.

When we take up authority that is not ours, making ourselves the one in charge of controlling those around us, orchestrating their decisions/actions, then we will suffer consequences as friends slowly exit out of our life. No one enjoys being told what to do, much less as an adult. It is arrogant to think we know best. Unless friends ask for our input, we should “stay in our lane”, minding our own business or risk becoming the busybodies the Bible warns about.

“Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. {1 Timothy 5:13 ESV}

To make it our job to “manage” others, we inevitably belittle those we profess to value, communicating our doubt of their abilities or decisions.

So as Martha rendered judgment against Mary for sitting at Jesus’ feet, making the most of the unimaginable opportunity to listen and learn from the Son of God, she was declaring in effect, that she knew better what Mary ought to be doing. Being a “know it all” can have its repercussions, as Martha quickly finds out.

“But the Lord answered her, “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 10:41-42 ESV}

Imagine her surprise when Jesus AFFIRMED Mary and instead, rebuked MARTHA!

Our words and tone can crush the intimacy cherished in our closest friendships. As we give way to undisciplined emotions and the manipulation of others, we unintentionally wound them, making them pull back from us in order to protect themselves.

When we make friends feel bad when they are around us, they will stop coming near us altogether.                                  

Believe it! Trust it! Live it!            

  • Is there a relationship that you struggle with, someone who seems to have pulled back from you? Ask God to help you examine how unintentionally your words/actions may have wounded them.
  • How can you right this wrong on your part? Determine to acknowledge this to them and ask for their forgiveness.
  • Do you find a friendship particularly difficult in your life, where you are the one feeling repeatedly cut by their accusations or condemnation? Ask God for direction about bringing this to their attention as you seek to protect a valued relationship.

Dear Lord, thank you for truth and insight from your Word that sanctifies us, helping us to love others as we love ourselves. Help us to be aware of how we make others feel. May we love them as Christ loves us.


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Gretchen Fleming
Gretchen Fleming
Gretchen's passion is to follow hard after Jesus, knowing He is the treasure of a lifetime and worth every minute she commits to Him. God’s Word has been life-giving to her through the most trying times—a great source of strength, wisdom, and truth. She is a Bible teacher, speaker, and writer, who loves to see Jesus change lives as He’s changed hers. Gretchen is a wife of 28 years and mother of 3 young adult children.

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