When We Play The Role Of ‘Martha’

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TheDiscipleMD

A few years ago a statement was made by Dieter Uchtdorf that caught my attention. He said:
“Too often we complicate the beauty and simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ with endless lists of meticulous expectations. However, when we focus on the ‘why’ of the gospel, much of the confusion fades away.”

The “why” of the gospel, as he stated, is the essential doctrines and principles of the church of Christ. I believe that he was trying to communicate that sometimes “we can’t see the forest for the trees,” meaning that we often focus on the details but in so doing lose sight of the big picture. This is a lot easier to do than we think.

A Relief Society President related this story to me many years ago. She told of a stake event where the “centerpieces” were to be handled by each ward. She told me she assigned some sisters that were less active to put together their centerpiece. On the day of the stake event each ward placed their centerpiece on a different table. She admitted to me that theirs was definitely lacking compared to the others. Some of the sisters of her ward bitterly complained to her about how shabby their centerpiece looked and that they felt embarrassed by it. This sister than said to me:

“I don’t know, I thought the objective of the gospel was to help uplift others by giving them opportunities. I didn’t know it was to have the best centerpiece.” That statement has stayed with me for years because it was a stark reminder to me that we can get lost in the “meticulous expectations,” and lose sight of the “why” of the gospel. This sister’s story is a reminder of the lesson taught by Christ to Martha found in the 10th chapter of Luke.

“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.”

Perhaps we are all found to be ‘Martha’ on occasion. Getting caught up in things that are good, but not of great importance is an easy trap to fall into. May we remember to keep in perspective the “why” of the gospel. May we not complicate the “beauty and simplicity” of it by having “endless lists of meticulous expectations” that obscure the more important principles of life.

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