“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
These verses come from a short episode in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 10:38-42) where Jesus visits the home of two sisters who had very different approaches to Him. On the one hand we have Martha – the diligent, busy sister who is distracted by all the preparations and grumpy with her sister for not helping out. On the other hand we have Mary who, rather than helping Martha get things ready for Jesus, chose to sit at His feet “listening to what He said.”
I’m sure there are many of us who sympathise with Martha in this scenario, for no one likes being left alone to do all the work! But when Martha asked Jesus to intervene and get Mary to help her, she received a surprising response. With tenderness and love, Jesus took the time to gently correct Martha’s perspective and priorities, pointing out that while she was “worried and upset about many things”, only one thing was truly necessary, and that was listening to Jesus like Mary was that day.
The point here is not that we should never be busy or working hard to meet the needs of others; instead, this passage shows us what Jesus truly wants from us and what is most important when it comes to our relationship with Him. Life in this world will continue to give us many things to be worried, upset and distracted by. There will always be bills to pay, appointments to attend, to-do lists to complete and people to see. Even the good things we do as Christians can become a source of anxiety and distraction if we are working to prove our worth or bolster our identity. Instead, Jesus gently reminds us that the one thing that is most important in life is to invest time into listening to His words, which is how we grow to know, love and obey Him.
The good news is that the time we spend doing this is never time wasted. All our jobs, checklists and worldly endeavours will one day come to an end, but if we trust in Jesus, our relationship with Him will endure forever. Here is something that can never be taken from us, so let’s choose the good portion and prioritise listening to Jesus.
Dear Lord Jesus, we thank and praiseYou for having the words of eternal life which can make us wise for salvation. Please help us to prioritise listening to You each day and help us to obey Your teachings, for our good and for the glory of God, Amen.