“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.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:40-42 NKJV.
I have often been intrigued by the story of Mary and Martha, especially when I was younger. I didn’t understand why the Lord rebuked her when she was serving Him and those that were with Him. In my “Martha mind” I thought, “Well, somebody had to do it! Who was going to fix the drinks and the dinner? Who was going to clean up?” And there was that Martha mentality. Martha was worried about so many things that she had anxiety! You can almost hear it in her voice when she says, “Lord, don’t you care?!”
We all know the effect that stress and anxiety has on society today. We do not know how to relax; we do not know how to rest. We certainly don’t know how to sit in the presence of God and drink in His presence. She was hurrying around making sure everyone had everything they needed. Martha was worried about so many things that she was loaded with stress! The Bible said she was “cumbered about much serving”, it means she was distracted.
“…And she (Martha) went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” Luke 10:40 ASV. Can you imagine going to Jesus and ordering Him around?! Martha was passionate to be sure. But Mary chose to sit at the Master’s feet. It wasn’t that she was lazy. It seems that she had been helping her sister. But when Jesus came, Mary knew what was important and it was not in the kitchen. Those things could wait, she knew one thing was needed and it was at the feet of the Master.
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33.
One interpretation suggests Martha wasn’t just preparing rice and beans. She was going “all out” as we say. If she had kept it simple she could have prepared dinner AND sat and listened to the Master! He was saying there were other things more important than what He was going to eat and drink that day. Do not let the important keep you from the needed; take time to sit at His feet and hear His Word!
So what did the Lord mean when He said that what Mary had chosen would not be taken away from her? Mary had chosen the eternal, the Word of God! She had chosen to sit at His feet and listen to what He had to say. She was interested in the Kingdom, in the eternal. She was laying up treasure in the world to come. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35 NIV.
Shortly before Jesus was to be crucified, He was at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus again. Guess what Martha was doing? “So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him.” John 12:2. This is where Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with the costly perfume. Martha prepared a lovely dinner for perhaps her last time. I love her because she was doing what she did best! And this was the time to do it. It was time to serve the One that she loved and called “the Christ, the Son of God”.
There is a time for everything, a time for serving, a time for listening, a time for praying and hearing the Word of God. We must make sure we keep our priorities in order. If serving is something you do best, then serve with all of your heart; but don’t let it get in the way of your quality time with the Savior. Do you excel at singing? Wonderful! Sing with all of your heart and sing unto the Lord! But if you sing for Him, and neglect to spend time with Him, then you are fooling yourself. You have not chosen the needful thing.
Those are just a couple of examples of thousands of things that we can get cumbered with or distracted by. Let us not be like Martha in the kitchen, but more like Mary in the living room, sitting at the feet of Jesus.