I haven’t read the story of Mary and Martha for a while. I find it this morning before church in Luke 10:38-42:
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
I underlined “one thing is necessary” because on my daily to-do list, I quickly become Martha. Imagine the scene: Martha is a perfect hostess; she greets Jesus as the door and she’s the one doing all the work. She’s mad at her sister and then mad at Jesus for not telling her sister to help her. It seems like a legitimate complaint. She’s anxious and troubled by how much she must do. She’s overwhelmed. She’s distracted and cannot focus. Isn’t the answer to get more help?
But the answer isn’t found in getting Mary to help. Jesus answers Martha and invites her to become the kind of person who sits at His feet and listens to Him. But why? How does this solve the problem of how much Martha must do as hostess?
If Martha was this kind of woman—the kind who spent time with Jesus and listened to Him— the serving part wouldn’t seem so exhausting or hard. Martha would do things out of an overflow of the Holy Spirit’s direction and power. The serving would no longer be a distraction; it would be a calling. It would represent a joyful, focused assignment for the day.
I also think about the “one thing necessary” involving an understanding of God’s supernatural power in our lives. I’ve often thought I don’t have time to spend in God’s word or in prayer. I have too much to do. But time spent with the Lord is never wasted time. In fact, on those days when I’m overwhelmed, I need more time with Jesus. And I’m with a God would can multiply my time, multiply my resources, and supernaturally make all things work for good in the day. In Martha’s situation, God could make everything easy and light for her immediately.
One thing is needed today.