Lessons from Mary and Martha This Christmas Season

Christmas can be a crazy time of the year. Parties, commitments, ministry opportunities…so many things we can be involved it. How many times do we look back when the season is over and wonder, “Where did the time go?” We want to keep Christ as the center of the season, but we so often get distracted from doing the very thing we desire the most.

Living in a World of Distraction

Our world is full of distractions—full of things that keep us from focusing on what’s most important. We often choose to spend time on the good while neglecting the best. But this isn’t a new problem, as we see with our friend Martha.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 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.” 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 10:38–42

Dear Mom, Jesus shows us how to choose the best.

christmas coffee with mom

What was Martha’s problem?

The text tells us that she was distracted.

Distracted means “unable to concentrate because one’s mind is preoccupied.” But let’s break that down just a bit more. Preoccupy means to “dominate or engross the mind to the exclusion of other thoughts.” In other words, Martha was so engrossed with doing the work of serving, she forgot the One she was serving.

Jesus gives us even more insight into what was going on in Martha’s mind. She was anxious and troubled about many things. What was the cause of this anxiety? I think we can figure it out by looking at what Martha said to Jesus:

“Lord do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?”

This statement reveals a lot about what Martha was thinking. Can you imagine her stomping around as she prepared food and took care of her guests, muttering under her breath. I don’t know if she actually did that, but I know how I’ve acted in similar ways. That attitude that says “Oh poor me. I have to do all this work alone.”

She looked at her sister, and she looked at her own service. When we don’t focus on Jesus, it becomes so easy to focus ultimately focus on ourselves instead.

So she decided to fix things.

After questioning whether Jesus even cared, she decided to help Him out. She let Him know what He should do about the problem. “Tell her to help me.” Have you ever tried to help Jesus out? To let Him know what needs to be done?

We can spend so much time trying to do for Christ that we forget to be with Christ.

Jesus Shows Us a Better Way

But oh how sweet that instead of reprimanding, Jesus simply redirects and reminds Martha of two things. And these are the two things that will help us to focus in the midst of this holiday season.

1. He redirects her mind.

He tells her “but one thing is necessary.”

Christmas is about the birth of our dear Savior. It’s not about the gifts, the entertaining, or even the serving if it takes our eye off the One we are serving. We can spend so much time trying to do for Christ that we forget to be with Christ.

How can we focus our minds on Jesus? We can make spending time with Jesus in prayer and studying his Word a priority. And we can slow down, simplify, and savor the season.

2. He reminds her of what is most important.

Choose the good portion, the one that will not be taken away.

Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to His teaching. She soaked in the presence of Jesus. He was there, right in front of her, and she didn’t miss a thing. Let’s be fully present where we are this season. Let’s put away our phones, Let’s spend time with others in deep conversations. And let’s bow our knees before Him in worship.

A Heart for Jesus

You know, I kind of like Martha. She did some things right. She invited Jesus into her home in the first place. And she was busy serving him. But she becomes distracted.

It’s so easy to do.

But listen to what Jesus said to Martha, learn from her mistakes. And have a very Merry Christmas.


Kay is a Christian, “retired” homeschooling mom of two sons who are both in college now. You’ll find her equipping and encouraging other moms at Heart-to-Heart Homeschooling She believes even the most overwhelmed, stressed-out homeschooling mom can cultivate the calm, deeply connected life she craves. Find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Lessons from Mary and Martha this Christmas season. #Christmasencouragement #BiblicalChristmas #ConnieAlbers #ChristianFaith