“It happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house” (Luke 10:38).
The phrase “putting the cart before the horse” is one of the oldest figures of speech with a traceable origin. It first appeared in English in the late 1500s in a book by George Puttenham, who was likely quoting from a much earlier work by the Roman philosopher, lawyer, and politician, Marcus Cicero, who lived from 106 to 43 BC Cicero wrote: “We put the cart before the horse and shut the stable door when the steed is stolen, in defiance of the old proverb.”
In other words, life is complex and it is easy for most of us to get our priorities mixed up at times. Martha was no exception. Her first impulse— inviting Jesus into her house—was right on target; asking Jesus to abide with us is the most important thing we can do. But once He arrived there with His disciples, Martha lost her focus and became more concerned with her own ideas for serving the Lord than listening to what He had to say.
Of course, Martha wasn’t wrong in wanting to feed her guests and show them warm hospitality. But in desiring everything to be just right, she allowed the preparations to take the top place in her thinking. Eager to be the perfect hostess, Martha became distracted by serving.
Eventually, she became irritated that her sister Mary was listening to Jesus instead of helping her. When Martha asked Jesus to tell her sister to help her get things ready, Jesus kindly explained to her that Mary was doing exactly what she needed to do. Dinner could wait.
Martha had energy, enthusiasm, and a generous spirit; she needed only to be less concerned with earthly matters and more concerned with eternal things. If we sit at Christ’s feet and learn from Him, we will be- come sanctified by His grace, and then our life will be an irrepressible force for good.
Dear Lord, help me to balance my zealous work for You with quiet times of absorbing Your words of truth.
For Further Study: Luke 10:38–42; Matthew 6:33; John 5:24