Devotionals Aug 8 – Sept 7, 2023: Being Mary’s and Martha’s in a Modern World

Biblical womanhood is under attack. Recent cultural events have shown that the world would like to erase true, biblical womanhood. Anyone can be a woman, yet no one knows what a woman is. This paradox came about because the world has rejected objective truth.

Without an objective standard, truth is always changing and evolving. This impacts what a woman believes to be her purpose in life. In the Christian worldview, the purpose or goal of life is fellowship with God. This is attainable in Christ, and a tangible reality by faith. The world’s purpose or goal in life is attaining their highest self, or “enlightenment.” They never reach their goal because they lack objective truth and therefore an objective target at which to aim. Instead of seeing this as a problem, they try to make it seem meaningful, saying that life is a journey to find oneself.

The biblical woman has an objective standard of truth: the Bible. This gives her a solid foundation so that she is unwavering in her faith. Instead of constantly searching and trying to attain enlightenment, she seeks for Christ and finds rest in his attaining of salvation for her. In Christ she has her fulfillment. While the worldly woman tries to make sense of her despair, the biblical woman has comfort and peace in the perfect work of Christ. And she has hope for the future! One day, Christ will bring her to heaven where she will be perfect! Life is not an endless quest in “finding oneself.” She already knows who she is: a beloved child of God.

            The worldly woman’s attitude is selfish. She is encouraged by the world to get rid of anything that stands in the way of her self-discovery and personal success. This can show up in small ways like the common idea of “self-care,” or in extreme ways like abortion. Somewhere in the middle of the spectrum is the career-focused woman. She is encouraged to forego marriage, and especially children, because they will limit her in achieving her goals. Instead, she seeks to do what she wants when she wants.

            The worldly woman’s attitude also lacks temperance. She lacks emotional self-control and doesn’t regulate or express her emotions in a godly way. She speaks whatever comes to her mind, even though it might hurt the other person, because she is being her most “authentic self.” If people have a problem with her behavior, it is evidence of an oppressive patriarchy that demands quiet women who are unimposing and agreeable. She also freely indulges in pleasure. She does whatever makes her happy in the moment.

             In stark contrast, we have the stories of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 and John 11 and 12. They are imperfect, yet still noteworthy, examples of biblical womanhood. They provide a few key illustrations of what a biblical woman looks like.

            First, we see that Mary and Martha are disciples of Christ. To be a disciple of Christ means to sit at his feet and hear his gospel. This means that the biblical woman must attend the chief means of grace to hear that gospel preached. Being a disciple of Christ requires that she deny herself, take up her cross, and follow Jesus (Matt. 16:24). The biblical woman must set herself aside as the main priority in her life and must be willing to suffer hardship for the sake of Christ (2 Tim. 2:3; 3:12).

Second, we see that Mary and Martha are given to hospitality and the service of others. Having a heart of service follows neatly behind being a disciple of Christ. The biblical woman must deny herself, giving her time, energy, and resources to serve her family and the church. Even before she can open her home, she must open her heart so that it is filled with love as she ministers to those around her.

Third, we see that Mary and Martha are confident and steadfast in their faith. As disciples of Jesus, biblical women follow Jesus with a confident, unwavering faith. The biblical woman is unashamed about professing Jesus to be her savior. She is not bashful about her faith at college, the workplace, the grocery store, or among friends and family.

Fourth, we see that Mary and Martha have different personalities. This is a beautiful thing. When looking across a meadow, there are many different flowers, each radiating their own beauty. Likewise, some women are more outgoing, talkative, and lively. Other women are more quiet, subdued, and easygoing. We see this with the sisters Mary and Martha. Mary was not more holy for her quiet personality, and Martha is not to be looked down on for being more outspoken. The fruit of the Spirit is not characterized by a particular personality type.

Fifth, we see that Mary and Martha are single women who have an important place in the life of the church. Historically, it is believed that Mary and Martha were young, unmarried women. They are an example of how single women have a unique capacity to serve in the church and can spend more uninterrupted time at the feet of Jesus.

This month we will use the stories of Mary, Martha, and also Hannah to bookend a study of Scripture’s doctrine on womanhood.

Rebekah is a wife and mother in the home. She attends Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Redlands, CA, with her family.

Date Read Study Psalter
Aug 8 Luke 10:38–42 What is “that good part” that Mary chose? 89 v. 1
Aug 9 John 11:20–34 What can we learn from Martha’s confession of faith? 190
Aug 10 John 12:1–8 How does this act of Mary show her love for Jesus? 426 vv. 1–3, 7–10
Aug 11 Ps. 45:9–17 What virtues does the bride of Christ possess? 125
Aug 12 Prov. 31:10–12 What characteristics of a godly woman do you see here? 360 v. 2
Aug 13 Prov. 31:13–16

Prov. 26:14

What stands out about the godly woman in these verses? 246 v. 3
Aug 14 Prov. 31:17 How do we balance taking care of ourselves and sacrificial service of others? 311
Aug 15 Prov. 31:18–19 What should characterize a godly woman’s workmanship? 271
Aug 16 Prov. 31:20 According to this verse, what characterizes a godly woman’s attitude in serving others? 55
Aug 17 Prov. 31:21–22 Why does it matter how godly women are clothed? 407 v. 2
Aug 18 Prov. 31:23 How does the wife’s reputation and honor affect that of her husband? 124 vv. 1–4
Aug 19 Prov. 31:24 How is the godly woman described here? 360 v. 1
Aug 20 Prov. 31:25–27 How do these verses show that being virtuous is a matter of the heart? 305
Aug 21 Prov. 31:28–31 What is the reward for the virtuous woman? 94 vv. 3–5
Aug 22 1 Cor. 7:1–11, 25–28 Is getting married a good thing? Who should get married? 69 v. 7
Aug 23 1 Cor. 7:29–40 What advantage is it to stay unmarried? 40
Aug 24 1 Cor. 11:1–3 What is the relationship between man and woman? Where did this relationship originate? (See 1 Cor. 11:8–9.) 51 v. 3
Aug 25 1 Cor. 11:4–5 What does it mean for a woman to dishonor her head while praying? 215
Aug 26 1 Cor. 11:6–7 How are these verses relevant today? 290 vv. 1, 3
Aug 27 1 Cor. 11:8–12 Does this idea of headship exist outside the bounds of marriage? 252
Aug 28 1 Cor. 11:13–15 How does Paul use the earthly picture of hair to describe the biblical idea of headship? 200
Aug 29 1 Tim. 2:8–15

1 Cor. 14:34–35

How should women behave themselves in the church? What is the apostle Paul’s reasoning? 348
Aug 30 Titus 2:3–5 What is the calling of the younger women in the church? 213 vv. 1–3
Aug 31 1 Peter 3:1–6 What does it mean to have a quiet spirit? 100
Sept 1 Eph. 5:22–24 What is the wife’s calling in marriage? 360 v. 2
Sept 2 Eph. 5:25–28 Why are women called to submit, and husbands to love? 326 vv. 3–4
Sept 3 Eph. 5:29–33

Gen. 2:24

Is marriage just a partnership/contract between two people? 359
Sept 4 1 Sam. 1:1–8 Was Hannah discontented with the Lord’s will to withhold children? 111
Sept 5 1 Sam. 1:9–18 How did her barrenness strengthen her faith? 163
Sept 6 1 Sam. 1:19–28 What can we learn from Hannah in these verses when it comes to our children? 360 v. 3
Sept 7 1 Sam. 2:1–10

Ps. 113:9

Was Hannah lifted up in pride to say these things about Peninnah? 188

Originally published Vo 82, No 8 / Aug 2023