Martha was cumbered about with much serving.
JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Martha was encumbered. The Greek word properly signifies to be drawn different ways at the same time, and admirably expresses the situation of a mind, surrounded―as Martha’s then was―with so many objects of care, that it hardly knows which to attend to first.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Her fault was not that she served: the condition of a servant well becomes every Christian. “I serve,” should be the motto of all the princes of the royal family of heaven. Nor was it her fault that she had “much serving.” We cannot do too much. Let us do all that we possibly can…Her fault was that she grew “cumbered with much serving,” so that she forgot Him, and only remembered the service. She allowed service to override communion, and so presented one duty stained with the blood of another.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): She was just distracted with it―when she should have been with her sister, sitting at Christ’s feet to hear His word.
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Martha was faulty in this respect, that she neglected the main business, and devoted herself entirely to household affairs…We must pay a proper attention to order, lest what is accessory―as the phrase is―become our chief concern.
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Others are so taken up with their worldly affairs, and are so busy providing for themselves and their families, they say, “I pray thee have me excused,” Luke 14:18.
J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): It seems so proper to attend to the duties of our station! It is just here that our danger lies. Our families, our business, our daily callings, our household affairs, our interaction with society, all, all may become snares to our hearts, and may draw us away from God.
OCTAVIUS WINSLOW (1808-1878): The busy whirl of life.
JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): It fills the heart with cares, and so unfits and deadens it to divine duties.
MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): Look at the scenes of a busy world, how they pass away; it is but as the buzzing of a summer fly, and all is gone. Therefore, set your affections on things above.
R. L. DABNEY (1820-1898): Our hurry and externality has impoverished our graces.
C. H. SPURGEON: The most of you are too busy, you have too much to do in the world; but what is it all about? Scraping together dust, loading yourselves with thick clay. O that you were busy after the true riches, and could step aside awhile to enrich yourselves in solitude, and make your hearts vigorous by feeding upon the person and work of your ever blessed Lord! You miss a heaven below by a too eager pursuit of earth. You cannot know these joyful raptures if meditation be pushed into a corner.
J. C. RYLE: The fault of Martha should be a perpetual warning to all Christians. If we desire to grow in grace, and to enjoy soul-prosperity, we must beware of the cares of this world. Except we watch and pray, they will insensibly eat up our spirituality, and bring leanness on our souls.
R. L. DABNEY: Too much of even a religious bustle is unwholesome for the soul.
ANDREW BONAR (1810-1892): One of the gravest perils which besets the ministry is a restless scattering energies over an amazing multiplicity of interests which leaves no margin of time and of strength for receptive absorbing communion with God.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): You can be so busy preaching and working that you are not nurturing your own soul. You are so neglecting your own spiritual life that you find at the end that you have been living on yourself and your own activities…That is why it is a good thing for all of us from time to time to stop and take a rest, and to examine ourselves, and ask, “What am I living on?” What if the meetings you attend so frequently and so regularly were suddenly prohibited to you, and how would you find yourself? What if your health broke down and you could not read, or enjoy the company of other people, and you were just left alone? What would you do? We must take time to ask ourselves these questions, for one of the greatest dangers to the soul is just to be living on our own activities and on our own efforts. To be over-busy is one the high-roads to self-deceptions.
JOHN TRAPP: God would not have the strength of his people to be exhausted in His service, but that respect be had to the health of their bodies, as well as to the welfare of their souls.
ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Rest is necessary for those who labour; and a zealous preacher of the Gospel will as often stand in need of it as a galley slave.
MATTHEW HENRY: “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while,” Mark 6:31. Christ calls them only to rest awhile; they must not expect to rest long, only to get breath, and then to go to work again…The reason given for this, is, not so much because they had been in constant work, but because they now were in a constant hurry;―“for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”
J. C. RYLE: “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” These words are full of deep wisdom. Our Lord knows well that His servants must attend to their own souls as well as the souls of others. He knows that a constant attention to public work is apt to make us forget our own private soul-business, and that while we are keeping the vineyards of others, we are in danger of neglecting our own, (Song of Solomon 1:6). He reminds us that it is good for ministers to withdraw occasionally from public work, and look within…The prosperity of a man’s ministry and public work is intimately bound up with the prosperity of his own soul. Occasional retirement is one of the most useful ordinances.
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE (1759-1833): Surely the experience of all good men confirms the proposition that without a due measure of private devotions the soul will grow lean.
C. H. SPURGEON: We ought to be Martha and Mary in one: we should do much service, and have much communion at the same time. For this we need great grace. It is easier to serve than to commune. Joshua never grew weary in fighting with the Amalekites; but Moses, on the top of the mountain in prayer, needed two helpers to sustain his hands. The more spiritual the exercise, the sooner we tire in it. The choicest fruits are the hardest to rear: the most heavenly graces are the most difficult to cultivate…Sometimes we think we are too busy to pray. That is a great mistake, for praying is a saving of time.
MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.