‘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 10:41-12 NASB
Martha, struggles with her attitude, worried and bothered by many things. Disquieted and troubled in mind, Martha is preoccupied and too busy about a thing.
There is something about this small moment between Jesus and Martha that temps us to want to take sides–Martha was wrong and Mary was right. Yet think back to the beginning of this story, “Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.“–Luke 10: 39 KJV
There is one very important, but very small word we haven’t mentioned: also.
The power of also.
Martha is receiving, working, and complaining. Mary is also-ing—which shows that she was working, but she also made time to sit and listen when she had the opportunity to be in the Lord’s presence.
Pouring out and taking time to refill. This balance sets our hearts straight as we grasp the truth that time with Christ is not only the better thing, but the necessary thing.
It is time in His presence, listening/reading/learning His ways that enables us to work and serve free from the attitudes of the flesh. Free from self-interest, resentment, worry, stress…
You see, we’ve all learned this the hard way. And for some crazy reason, we keep learning this same lesson—not because we’re slow learners, but because this is the necessary thing.
It’s that important.
Martha is the one that works hard with good intent, serving Christ but neglecting the what she needs in order to sustain life in the work.
How well I know this struggle between flesh and spirit.
When we separate work from worship, sacred from secular, faith life from real life we feel pressured to choose between the spiritual and the practical.
How vividly I see the contrast between these two women, these two hearts that both love and serve the Lord. It is a challenge I face daily.
There is so much more to this story than a lesson on time management and priorities.
A position of the heart.
Mary shows us a position of the heart–quiet, seated, listening, and present, making the most of the opportunity to learn from Christ.
A condition of the relationship.
Mary demonstrates a condition of her relationship with Christ, able to set the work aside and be present with Christ.
This is the better way.
Mary has chosen the better thing, the one thing that is necessary. How we get this backwards. Time spent listening to God’s word is the necessary thing–Jesus’ words, not mine.
This isn’t some religious rule to make our lives harder.
It’s not even God’s plan to make us better servers or more effective in ministry.
In this situation which we have all experienced, Christ shares the secret to living well. Serving others is a very good thing, but nurturing the soul is the better thing.
Being present with Jesus, this is the better thing.
The necessary thing.
Join me next time for one last post on lessons from Mary and Marta. What can happen when a Martha like me learns to be a Mary?