Today’s reading: Luke 10, 11, 12, Proverbs 24
38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” 41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
I have read the Bible hundreds of times over the past thirty years. Yet each time I read this passage I find myself either repenting or making some internal heart adjustment and some external time adjustment with my schedule. The slippery slope Martha found herself on of placing duty over devotion is a battle I fight regularly. If you are honest and anything like Martha and me, I am sure you can identify with recurring struggles in this area as well.
The problem was not that Martha had no relationship with Jesus at all or had no desire for the Word or spiritual things. V. 39 reveals clearly that Martha had been spending time at Jesus’ feet listening to His Word along with Mary. And the problem was not that Mary was lazy or refused to serve in practical ways at all. V. 40 similarly reveals that Mary had been serving in the meal preparation and household duties but had left Martha when Jesus began to teach the Word.
The problem with Martha is she valued practical service over the Word of God and time with Jesus. She was so engrossed in working for Jesus she confused that with spending time with Jesus. That is where many people are in their walk with God today. We equate serving Jesus and His people on the same level as spending time with Jesus and receiving His Word. Both are important but they are not the same thing.
Whenever we place serving Jesus through serving others on the same level as spending intimate time with Jesus, we become deceived. Then, like Martha, our hearts become troubled and worried about many things. Peace goes out the window and our natural mind and reasoning takes over. That is exactly what prompted Martha to attempt to pressure Jesus to make Mary leave Him to come and help her.
We see another example of this in Revelation chapter two. Jesus commended the church at Ephesus for all their hard work, service, and excellent ministry efforts. Yet He had one thing against them: they had left their first love. Like Martha, they had placed a higher value on serving Jesus through ministry than spending time developing their love relationship with Him. He went on to say this would cost them if they did not repent by removing their ministry anointing.
Mary chose the good part. She placed a higher value on the Word and personal time with Jesus than ministry for Jesus. He told her what she received in that time with Him would not be taken from her. There is one thing needful above all else – our relationship with Him.