When You’re Branded in a Way You Wish You Weren’t

A Story of Martha We Don’t Often Highlight.

Ever had a reputation so severely marked on you that you thought you would never escape that stigma? That’s how Martha would have felt today.

For the longest time in my life, I have all been about building brands. It’s what I do best. The only brand I had refused to build for so many years is myself.

That’s because I once believed that I had made so many mistakes and done so many regret-able things that there was no way I would be able to fix my branding. I used to think that all that filth and mess would determine who I would be for the rest of my life.

Sound familiar?

However, The worst effect of this outlook was not on my self-image. It was my image of others that was the worst. If I thought I was bad, oh how lowly I must have looked at people who had done worse. I cannot even remember the number of people I had judged based plainly on the mistakes they had made.

Still sound familiar?

We all have this problem. We base our perception of people, businesses and even ministries on the mistakes they make. This has got to be the worst aspect of our fallen nature.

One of the biggest victims to this fallen nature is Martha. We all know the story: Jesus visits two sisters. One chooses to earn that Person’s presence (which He had already granted), while the other simply enjoys it. Boom! One wrong decision, and everyone suddenly says, “I don’t want to be like Martha.”

Ouch. What a painful legacy.

Imagine making one decision that then is set as the only thing people remember you for. That’s what happened to Martha.

Martha was the one who worked her back off without knowing who she was doing the work for.

Martha was the church music director who built up her technical skills without building up her intimacy with God.
Martha was the executive who worked overtime without internalizing the company mission and vision.
Martha was the leader who went to Victory Weekend so she could volunteer in Kid’s Church without believing she was completely set free.
Martha was the mother who worked to earn a living for her family without remembering to spend time with the kids she worked so hard to provide for.

Double ouch.

Nowadays, Martha is a brand that no disciple wants to wear. That can’t be all her life really added up to, is it? Turns out that it’s not. Martha may not have been known for it, but there was another passage in the Bible that Martha was key to fulfulling. It was one of the greatest miracles the ministry had ever seen: Lazarus’ resurrection.

Failure to Faith

After Jesus had learned of the death of Lazarus, he took a twenty-five mile journey to pay a visit (and He knew that He was going there to make a zombie out of Lazarus).

When Martha had learned that Jesus was on His way, some two miles out, she met Him. this speaks a lot of volumes, because Mary had chosen to stay and mourn.

Where Martha had decided to go once again to seek the presence of Jesus, Mary still chose to sit, this time however she wasn’t sitting at Jesus feet. She was sitting at the feet of her own misery.

Upon meeting Jesus on the road, Martha said something that was completely different from the Martha we all know:

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you…”
John 11:21–22

When back in the kitchen, Martha did not have the faith enough to simply believe she deserved Jesus’ presence. Here she was again, not only running to His presence, but running to His presence with faith to see God bring life to the dead. Amazing!

When failing to believe in Jesus being enough, she sucked it up and changed her heart. The next time around she was ready with a faith that caused her to believe that Jesus was everything her family needed.

The Key

How did she do it? It wasn’t by her own strength, I’m sure. Luke 10:40 shows us what she was once:

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?”

Martha once thought that Jesus wanted her to be in the kitchen, making Him a meal. She felt she had to earn His favor by working away from His presence, that building a relationship with Him was not the key, but that serving Him was. She felt that Jesus did not care.

Jesus’ made her realize that it was in building a relationship with Him that she would be renewed, and I’d like to think that’s what she did after. The Bible did not mention that she threw down her apron, and joined Mary, but I’d like to believe that was the smart thing to do.

That there is the key: Jesus’ presence. When Martha realized that His presence was all she needed. And this was affirmed by what she said the next time they met:

“Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Wow! She finally got it right. She finally understood the power of Jesus presence. Not only that, but her faith was built up so strong that she was the first to affirm that Jesus had the power to raise Lazarus from the dead.

How did you mess up before? Is something of the past branding who you are now? The key is not doing so many good things hoping it will cover up the mistakes we did in the past and the hurt we experience now. The key is realizing that, when you put yourself in Jesus’ presence, you can be transformed and your faith can be built up so that you can hustle to do greater things.

The ability to hustle and lead is the result of being empowered and transformed by God’s presence.
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