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Mary of Bethany: Protection from Shame

Every church has prominent contributors, like teachers, leaders, organizers, servers, and givers who keep everything afloat. Without them, everyone knows the church just wouldn’t be what it is. But what about those who tend to stand in the shadows, whose contributions are not the sort to get listed in the bulletin?

Martha—outgoing, energetic, and highly gifted—embodied both the Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 woman, rolled into one. Mary was quiet, sensitive, and contemplative. How did that help anyone else? Martha’s complaint to Jesus was really intended to goad Mary into some sort of productive action. This manipulative tactic was probably not her first attempt to get Mary to fit her mold of a godly woman. Despite Martha’s good intentions, Jesus noticed its shaming effect on Mary and came to her defense.

Martha wasn’t the only person who misunderstood Mary and underrated her contribution. Jesus’ disciples scolded her harshly for wasting her expensive perfume in such a rash, unproductive manner. Their shaming response implied that she and her gifts were a waste.

Jesus would not stand for it. In the same way that He had defended Mary when Martha accused her of laziness and thoughtlessness, Jesus came to her defense when the disciples complained about her extravagant act of devotion. Jesus was not criticizing the disciples’ efforts to serve the kingdom. Rather, He was calling them to recognize the significance of Mary’s contribution too. Her quiet attention at His feet and her attentive care of His feet were worthy of praise.

Jesus appreciated the gift of Mary’s devotion and worship. He put the spotlight on Mary’s unique contribution to His story, memorializing it for the rest of the world to notice and admire.

Apply the Word

Shame can come in subtle forms, including neglect or a simple lack of appreciation. Jesus defended the quiet gifts that others overlooked. If you have felt underappreciated, remember that God sees and values your service. If you have marginalized someone’s gift, consider how you can instead affirm their unique contribution.

BY Tiffany Clark, Writer

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