And why was Mary so popular? It helps if you know the Hebrew equivalent of some of these names. Mary in the Old Testament was Miriam. Of course it would be a popular name among women and girls especially. But I must confess, even when I found out that the two names were the same, my first thought was, "Why her? She fell and fell with a bang!"
But isn't that what our culture does? We remember the failures forever. No matter how good a person might have been both before and after, we focus on the mistakes they made. We always say, "Yes, but—"
Aren't you glad God doesn't do that? David was always described as "a man after God's own heart." Peter, who denied Jesus, was allowed to preach the first gospel sermon to both Jews and Gentiles, and serve as an elder in the church (1 Pet 5:1). And Miriam? After she was punished, she came back and evidently did her job quietly and well. Hundreds of years later God remembered her through the prophet Micah like this: For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam (Mic 6:4). No "yes buts" with God.
Isn't that comforting? And shouldn't we say, "Shame on us," when we do not give that same consideration to a brother or sister? Shouldn't we be focusing on the good in people instead of constantly looking for and remembering the bad? Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1Cor 13:7).
Let's try today to remember the good that people have done, even the ones you are not particularly fond of, or have had issues with. If they sit next to you on the pew, chances are high that there is something good there if you will only take the time to actually look for it. And wouldn't you like it if that person did the same for you?
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (1Pet 4:8).