“But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.’”
The story of Martha and Mary is fairly well known among Christians. It’s a story of two sisters who welcomed Jesus into their house. Martha began to make preparations for him and was hard at work to make sure everything was good for their guest. She was being hospitable and serving Jesus in that way. Mary, on the other hand, was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to him teach.
Martha was annoyed that she was doing all the work to make things ready while Mary just sat around not helping at all. She asked Jesus to tell her sister to get up and help. It reminds me of when my siblings and I used to have to do dishes after dinner as a kid and I had to call my mom over to tell my little sister to help me when she wasn’t doing her fair share.
But Jesus didn’t give her the answer she expected. Instead, he gave her the opposite response. He told her that in fact, Mary was in the right. He told Martha, “you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.”
She was worried about a hundred different things. If she’s anything like me before I have company over, she was probably thinking about cleaning up and making food and getting a comfortable place ready for her guests to stay and making sure there was enough room for everyone to sit down and all of the other little things that come up when you’re in that kind of a frenzy of preparation. All of these things were weighing on her, taking up her time and all of her attention. None of them were necessary.
Jesus says “only one thing is necessary.” And it is precisely what Mary is doing – listening to the Lord’s teaching.
When you have a hundred things on your mind and you feel like you’re in a frenzy trying to get everything done, remember that only one thing is necessary. All of those things may be important in one way or another, but in light of eternally, none of them matter. Only one thing does, and that is to be in community with God through Jesus Christ. Take time to sit at Jesus’ feet. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your business is what God wants from you. He just wants you to spend some time with him, listening to him, talking to him, sitting at his feet, just enjoying the time you have in his presence.
Take that time. It will always be worth it.
Thank you for the example of Mary and Martha. Thank you for showing us that Jesus is always better than whatever other business is keeping us occupied. Help us to always choose the better portion – to sit at Jesus’ feet.
In Jesus’ Name,