“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and 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”
(Luke 10:41-42).

Spurgeon comments that the little word “but” is a very useful pause for all of us very busy saints of God. Many good things that occupy us can squeeze out the “one thing” that ought to be at the center of life. Jesus is saying something like this: “Martha, you are so busy serving me that you have no time for me to serve you. I appreciate your love and I recognize that your motives are good, but your heart is divided and distracted. Your zeal to serve me has pushed me to the edge of your heart. Martha, I want to be at the center of everything for you. That is far more important that preparing a fancy meal in my honor.”

How did it happen that Mary was in the “better” place? Answer: She chose it. Given the same opportunity that Martha had, she chose to go to the living room and sit at Jesus’ feet. It did not happen by chance; it never does. You will never end up at Jesus’ feet by accident. You must choose to go there or it will never happen. Mary did not know when or if Jesus would return to her home. She wanted to spend time with him while he was there. She knew there would always be other meals to prepare, but she might never have another chance to be with Jesus. That’s why she was willing to leave some things undone if necessary in order to be with Jesus. She chose the important over the urgent, the better over the good. And that is why the Lord commended her. This passage is not about cooking versus praying or the active life versus a life of contemplation. It’s about the divided life verses the focused life, a life of frantic activity versus a life centered on knowing Christ.

One thing is needful: To sit at Jesus’ feet. How happy we will be if we find a way (and the time) to do it. We must not let the good crowd out the best. In a Scandinavian country there is a lovely statue of Christ that stands in a town square. The statue is noteworthy because the face of Jesus is not visible to those who stand in front of the statue. When a traveler complained, “I cannot see his face,” a man replied, “If you wish to see his face, you must kneel at his feet.”

So it is for all of us. It is easy to lose our perspective when we are serving the Lord. No amount of service for Christ can substitute for the value of spending time at his feet. It is right to serve the Lord but first we must listen to him. The world says, “Don’t just sit there, do something.” And Jesus says, “If you are worried and distracted, don’t just do something, take time to sit at my feet.”

Lord Jesus, I am running hard right now and I don’t even know how to slow down. Forgive me. Have mercy on my frazzled soul. Help me to find my place, quietly, at your feet. Amen. 

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.