“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
This story takes place at a point in Jesus’ ministry when He was traveling around to various villages teaching and visiting His followers. He ends up visiting the home of the sisters Mary and Martha. These sisters are total opposites. One is a hard worker, the other could be considered lazy by some. But there are important lessons we can take away from their dinner party with Jesus.
We see Martha hard at work preparing the elaborate meal for Jesus. She seems to be making sure that everything is just right for Him. Meanwhile, Mary is seated at the Lord’s feet just enjoying His presence and listening to what He is saying. Of course Martha questions this, and to be honest I probably would have too. Martha believes she is doing the right thing until she brings her complaints to Jesus and He gives her what I assume is a very different answer from what she was expecting.
Jesus tells Martha that Mary is doing the right thing; she is concentrating on Him and His words. Martha is too distracted by her preparations to listen to what Jesus is saying, or to even enjoy being in His presence. He is implying to Martha that He doesn’t need a big, fancy meal; a small simple one would be enough. What He really wants is Martha’s full attention.
Wouldn’t we all like to be the Mary in this situation? To be the one who can be at peace simply sitting at Jesus’ feet taking in His every word, undistracted by the busy-ness of the world. To be the one who always seems to have time to talk to a friend or comfort a child.
However, I have a feeling that most of us end up being the Martha. Not that what Martha is doing is totally wrong. We need people who work hard and get things done. It is important to serve and help others. But getting caught up in the details of this world can hurt our spiritual lives if that is all we concentrate on. We can lose track of our own spiritual needs as well as those of the people around us.
It is necessary to rest, be still, take in God’s word, and listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. If we don’t do this we can quickly run out of steam and forget what the purpose of our work is, and then soon tire of what it is that is keeping us so busy. The purpose of our lives on this earth after all is to glorify God. However, it’s not a bad thing to want to work, serve, and help out; in fact it’s a good thing! But it can become a bad thing if it’s all you concentrate on and you miss both what’s going on both with the people around you and in your own soul.