If Martha Were a College Student

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Have you ever heard the story of Martha, the woman in the Bible? If she were a college student today rather than a woman living at the time of Jesus, her story would look scarily similar to mine. It would be almost identical, actually, to my week. Minus the sister (I do have a sister, she just doesn’t fit into this particular story).

The real story of Martha is found in Luke 10:38-42. It starts out with a casual mention that Jesus was coming to Martha’s house for a visit. As if that were the same as any other dinner guest! Like, “Oh, and then Jesus just happened to drop by one time…” But I digress…

Martha apparently saw the situation my way. Verse 40 says that, “Martha was distracted with much serving.” Jesus was at her house! Imagine the God of the universe come down in the form of man coming to your house for dinner. Wouldn’t you be running around trying to make sure everything was absolutely as perfect as it could possibly be? I would! But then again, we’ve already established that Martha and I have some things in common. Maybe you’re wiser.

Mary was a wise person like you. Verse 39 says that she “sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” Jesus being there with her meant for her a chance to fellowship with Him and to learn from Him. She didn’t want to waste time with things that didn’t really matter when she had the opportunity to spend time with God.

Now, after a little while of this set up, Martha kind of snapped. (If any of you have seen me plan any kind of party, you know exactly what this looks like.) She asked Jesus, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me” (verse 40). She was frustrated. Her vision of perfection and what needed done was hard and stressful and she felt overwhelmed.

But Jesus didn’t send in reinforcements. Instead, He gently reminded her of what was important. He said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

The women in the story had two choices: to busy themselves with unnecessary service or to focus on their Lord and Savior. Jesus said that Mary chose rightly, and that Martha didn’t.

Now, back to my week and what Martha would be like as a college student. This week I have been slammed with homework, with church stuff, with family stuff, with cleaning stuff, with work stuff… You get the idea. I am like Martha. If Martha were my 20 something best friend here at U of A, she would be just as busy as I am. She too would be filling her day with good things, very good things, but she too would probably let those things creep up too high on her priority list.

Making the effort to focus on Jesus, as Martha learned, takes some sacrifice on our part. It doesn’t just happen. Sometimes we have to be willing to give things up to find the time to be in His Word. We have to make the effort to focus on real prayer. I didn’t do that this week. I read my Bible almost every day, but my focus wasn’t there. Spending time with my Savior was just something else I needed to get through on my to-do list.

We may think Martha and Mary had an amazing privilege of getting to see the face of Jesus and to sit and talk with Him (which they absolutely did!) but we might fail to realize the amazing privilege we have today. We have the finished Word of God right in our hands. We have the opportunity to stand before His throne, knowing that we are redeemed by Christ, and share with Him even the most mundane parts of our day. Really, our time with Jesus is just as much of an undeserved privilege and honor as those who got to walk and talk with Jesus here on Earth. We need to treat it that way.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” -Matthew 6:33


  1. George Wayne

    It’s not just college age women who struggle with this. Senior citizens like me do too. I am reminded that the Greek word used to describe Martha serving is the same word from which we get the word Deacon. She was intentionally and purposefully, meeting a need and serving the Lord. But she should have been valuing her relationship with Him more than her service for Him. Probably, many people (like me!) were more focused on Jesus last week–Passion Week–than this week. Shame on us and thank you!

    • MeredithAnnG

      This is definitely true (and difficult) for everyone in all walks of life : ) And thanks for pointing out the Greek word! The work she was doing was all good and, like you said, she was even meeting needs. The fact that Jesus still corrected her really shows just how important our relationship with Him is!

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