Only One Thing is Needed


The busyness of life is something we all can relate to. For many of you that are reading this article, you know how hectic life can get. Between school, work, homework, social life and church there is not much time to do the things we really enjoy. In today's world we have ways we can control the TV shows we like to watch. I personally do not own a PVR, but my kids would love to have one. Their argument is that more homework will get done, and that they will be able to control their TV watching habits. I have a solution; cut cable! Being busy is our thing though in the world today. Being active gives us value and often gives people meaning to their lives. If we can produce a busy day, we often feel others will respect us more, never mind the fact that we are dead tired. I know many people that feel unproductive if they have not filled every part of their agenda, in fact I can relate!


In the bible though being busy does not always mean you are giving priority to the right things. In biblical times people were busy, they had relationships as we do today, and had more time but they were busy with things that we take for granted. Food and water was not as conveniently available, and many other work activities in the home or outside the home did not have the same ease we have today. If they needed to get a message to someone they would have to go to their home or travel a day just for that one thing.  If you invited people over for a meal the preparation would take a day or more, imagine a wedding or a feast. Hospitality was an integral part of the social fabric in biblical times and Jesus often was invited to people's homes during his three years of ministry.


In Luke 10:38-42 we are introduced to some friends of the Lord Jesus who lived in a town called Bethany. It is a home where a man named Lazarus along with his two sisters, Mary and Martha lived. In John 11 & 12 we can read a lot about them as well. They were close to the Lord and they truly appreciated his friendship as well as his teaching. In Luke 10, Martha invites Jesus and his disciples to have a meal at their home. This was no small task, remember the Lord traveled around with his disciples a lot; we don't know if all of them were there but assuming they were that meant an extra 13 people plus some of the others that travelled with them. So what we read is that Martha did the inviting, and then became busy and in the NIV it says "became distracted" with all the preparations. Her sister Mary on the other hand, sat at the feet of Jesus listening to His teaching. Lazarus isn't mentioned in this context, as women carried the bulk of domestic work in this traditional culture. If it was written today, I am sure he would have been called out as well! Martha in verse 40 tells the Lord how busy she is, legitimately while Mary is not helping. Jesus responds in a way that kind of contradicts the way we think. In most environments all family members pitch in when guests are over. Jesus responds "Martha, Martha you are upset about many things, but only one thing is needed, Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Hold on here. You mean not helping out is more important? The principle that Jesus is teaching is not to promote laziness, but rather to prioritize what is important. The practical work needed to be done. Jesus is not undermining the household chores but rather saying that her attitude should have been more like her sisters. If Martha had been prioritizing the Lord in her heart, maybe listening to what she could as she came in and out but with a servant hearted spirit, she may have realized that Mary needed to be at Jesus' feet. Sometimes, people need to be encouraged to be listening to Jesus rather than looking after things that can be accomplished by others. I always admire people who serve behind the scenes and are happy to do it so others can grow. They will have their time of listening, but facilitating for others so they can enjoy the presence of Jesus may be what God wants you to do. 


By: Pastor David Jones