Was Martha a Perfectionist?


Luke 10 v. 38-42

Imagine the scene…

Jesus and a few disciples are at Martha’s house receiving hospitality. Martha, Mary and Lazarus are a family who love and follow Jesus, and they are His friends. Martha has spent all day preparing the house and the food. She wants to honour Jesus and wants it to be perfect.

As the eldest child she has a tendency to take charge; she takes her responsibilities seriously, and she’s held in high esteem by family and neighbours. Martha has worked hard all day and there is still so much to do, she when sees Mary sitting and relaxing at Jesus’ feet she feels frustration, even resentment towards her younger sister. She points this out to Jesus and He says to her, ‘Martha you are worried and upset by many things but only one thing is needed’.

Martha worried about the details, wishing to please, get it right, but made those around her feel uncomfortable.

We all have areas where we strive for excellence. I’m reassured that my dentist, my surgeon and many other skilled people are like this. They have God given gifts. However, we can set such high standards for ourselves that can be almost impossible to reach; even higher standards than God sets for us.

Perfectionism can be rooted in insecurity and may cause physical and psychological symptoms that affect our relationships. We can beat ourselves up and never think we are good enough. Social media doesn’t help, the ‘look at the life I’m living’ and ‘aren’t I perfect?’ posts.

What is the One Thing That is Needed?

Finding our value and confidence in God, and what He says about us, and not in what we do, have or look like, can release our self-imposed pressures.

Is. 62 v.3-4

Ps. 139 v.1-18

Jn. 1 v.12

1 Pet. 1 v.18-19

Eph. 1 v.3 -8

Our feelings will come and go, but God’s word is the truth and does not change.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, the details. Whom are you doing this for? Jesus must come first.

Our relationship with Jesus is the foundation of our relationship with others. Love and service to others flow from this.

Jesus was perfect, but not a perfectionist.


© 2020 Riverside Church (Southwell)