Saturday, May 23, 2009


Doctrine & Covenants 66
"Seek not to be cumbered"

cum·ber, cum·bered, cum·ber·ing, cum·bers
To weigh down; burden: was cumbered with many duties.
To hamper or hinder, as by being in the way: was cumbered with a long poncho.
To litter; clutter up: Weeds cumbered the garden paths.
Archaic - To bother; distress.
A hindrance; an encumbrance.
from : Middle English combren, to annoy, from Old French combrer, from combre, hindrance,

I'm intrigued by this word and what it means, maybe because I have a great tendency to cumber up my life. Here are some quotes that help me as I strive to put my priorities in better order. (The Mary and Martha story is found in Luke 10.)

On one occasion Martha was making dinner and, as the scripture says, “was cumbered about much serving.” In other words, she was stressed out! Mary, on the other hand, “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word,” while Martha became increasingly upset that no one was helping her. Does that sound familiar? Do you think she was thinking, “Why is Mary sitting there while I’m sweating over this stove?” So Martha turned to Jesus and said, “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.” The Lord’s gentle invitation to Martha may have surprised her. “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” The Savior’s response strikingly clarified what mattered most. On that evening in Martha’s home, the good part was not in the kitchen; it was at the Lord’s feet. Dinner could wait.
Bonnie D. Parkin

Most of us have more things expected of us than we can possibly do. As breadwinners, as parents, as Church workers and members, we face many choices on what we will do with our time and other resources. We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives. Jesus taught this principle in the home of Martha. While she was “cumbered about much serving," her sister, Mary, “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.” When Martha complained that her sister had left her to serve alone, Jesus commended Martha for what she was doing but taught her that “one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” It was praiseworthy for Martha to be “careful and troubled about many things”, but learning the gospel from the Master Teacher was more “needful.” The scriptures contain other teachings that some things are more blessed than others.
Dallin H. Oaks

How are we “cumbered” today? Are household tasks a hindrance and burdensome? Are we disorganized, frustrated, overstressed? Are we victims of crises, reacting to pressures of time and circumstance rather than acting to control them? And, conversely, are we so involved with learning or outside interests that we do not honor our domestic responsibilities? There are times when the work must be done. But it can be done with a positive attitude and without martyrlike complaining. There is a principle to be learned here. Obviously, Martha felt anxiety. Was she placing more emphasis on the food than on the person she would serve? Elder Neal A. Maxwell observes: “The conversation that night was eternal; the calories were not. When we get filled with Martha-like anxiety, it usually stems from failure to establish proper priorities.”
Evelyn T. Marshall
(This whole article was excellent with a lot of good insights; it was difficult choosing just one paragraph!)

A couple more links--
Wisdom and Order by Neal A. Maxwell
The Stresses of Life by Lili De Hoyos Anderson
The Needful Thing by Ben H. Dorsey III

Final side note from verse 11 - Sometimes in order to "magnify our office" we need to "push many people to Zion" but "with songs of everylasting joy upon their heads!"

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