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Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairyman Published on 28 September 2018

I was called “Martha” once back in my college days when I shared an apartment with four other girls. I was scorched at having to pick up after everyone and wash up the dishes that were left on the counter and in the sink.

I felt like the Cinderella of the bunch. I confronted one of my roommates, “I don’t think this arrangement is fair. I do everyone’s dishes and clean up the living area. It embarrasses me when the guys come over and everything is a mess.”



Instead of sympathy, she called me “Martha.” I was not familiar with the story of Mary and Martha. Of course, I had heard it before, but not in this context. Not wanting to appear ignorant, I did some research and found my namesake in Luke 10:38-42 KJV.

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, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:


But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

My roommate was chastising me about being “troubled and careful about many things.” She hit the nail on the head. I was not a busybody per se, just liked to keep tabs on everyone’s affairs and make sure things were equal and fair.

I can’t imagine why I was dubbed “Mistress Quickly” (a bustling maid in the play Falstaff) and Little Red Yevet (a rename of the Little Red Hen).

It took me a long time to realize I didn’t have to be the complaining servant. I could choose to serve or not serve. I didn’t have to cover for the failings of others. My actions became my focus. I didn’t need to worry about the failings of others. They were masters of their own fate. After all, I was the only person I could change, and I had plenty to work on.

Lately, I have returned to the story of Mary and Martha for a different reason. Martha was serving others, and that was a good thing. I can see her frantically bustling around putting the final touches on a meal fit for a king. She desperately needed help. After all, she was entertaining the Son of God.

Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet basking in the glory of His words. Martha wished she could be there too, but she couldn’t stop. The work had to be done, and Mary should help. The story doesn’t give Martha’s reaction to Jesus’ abrupt chastisement, but I am sure she was humiliated. I would have been.


Jesus did not delight in humiliating people; He simply wanted Martha to know there are more important tasks in life than making a good impression. Mary was taking time to learn the truth. Jesus was the source of all truth, and she wanted to know.

Mary knew Jesus would only be in their house for a while. She wanted to honor Him by listening to his teachings. Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Mary desired to be a true disciple.

In our society, many of us have become Marthas. We are so busy keeping up with the Joneses we are more concerned with appearances than we are with the truth. In fact, in many circles, the “spin” is more important than the truth. In other words, how we present the facts about an incident or person makes all the difference.

We think we are getting the news when we watch one news network and ignore all others. We think we have the facts when we hear the gossip and inflammatory ads, but we seldom take time to go to the source. We are too busy. Too careful and troubled about many things.

We are troubled on every side with false narratives. We don’t know who to believe. Networks get together and decide what they want the American people to believe this week and what stories will be told and which will be left out.

The chatter begins and doesn’t end until someone comes up with a better controversy to cover. Then it starts all over again. The Left and the Right battle it out in a war of words. Are we hearing the truth from either side? Is the chatter of the media helpful? Or are we just being “troubled and careful?”

We are careful. Sometimes too careful. We skirt controversial subjects and hem-haw over the facts. Even when we have the facts, we often are worried we might offend someone if we speak out. We are careful and guarded in our behaviors because we don’t want to be branded with an unsavory title.

We want people to like us. We don’t want to ruffle feathers or shine the spotlight on us. We want to be left alone. So we allow opinions to be circulated as truth and truth to be spun away into vicious lies.

What is the answer? Mary got it right. We need to spend more time listening to what the Savior of the world said:

. . . every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

In modern language, Jesus was saying, “People will show their true colors in the things they do and say. A lie will die eventually, and the truth will live on.”

We must slow down and become like Mary. We must seek to sit at the feet of truth, willing to go to the person or their history before we make a judgement. We must look at the fruits of their labors, not just listen to the spin of a talk show host or the guests who want to look good in the public eye or shape a particular political agenda.

In Martha’s defense, she was like many of us, but she learned from the Savior’s chastisement. Later in the scriptures, we find Martha seeking Jesus at her brother’s death. She was the first to come to Him.

Though there was a crowd of people at her house, she was not in the house cleaning or preparing for the funeral. The scriptures say many Jews had come to visit, but she wasn’t worried about their comfort. She was there to meet the Savior. With unshakable faith, she said:

“But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

Martha waited for Jesus to come. When she saw Him coming, she didn’t go gather the crowd to see who her guest would be. She went to Him first and went to Mary afterward, knowing Mary would like a private meeting. That sounds like Martha had changed. She was troubled and careful, but she was troubled and careful about the right things.

She came first to the Savior and then to her family, and she was not concerned about what the neighbors thought. She had found truth, and the truth had given her freedom from the burden of worrying about society’s microscope. end mark

Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writes about faith, family and freedom.