Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she 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.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” –Luke 10:38-42
Are there any passages of Scripture that trip you up? Maybe even cause you to shake your head?
For me, Luke 10:38-42 has been one of those Scriptures.
Several years ago our church ladies’ group was doing a Bible study together and this passage was the focus of one of the lessons. As we shared that evening, one of the other ladies in the group spoke up stating that she had always struggled with this passage. She empathized with Martha and wondered that Jesus did not “go to bat for her.”
Yes, that was my struggle. I was not alone. Someone else saw it, too.
As a “doer,” I identified with Martha. I could envision the scene as she flitted about meeting the needs of her guests – greeting them, making them comfortable, preparing a meal. I could imagine the thoughts spinning through Martha’s head as she worked alone. ALONE while her sister was right there – within view, sitting. The thoughts would grow heavier as Martha continued to listen to herself. “There Mary sits. She is also a “lady of this house. It’s her responsibility to help. Why doesn’t she get up and help? There she sits – doing nothing.” Yes, I felt for Martha.
In the years since that evening Bible study session, I must confess that no matter what I’ve learned about “choosing the good portion” a part of me still sympathized with Martha and her view of the situation.
Until two weeks ago.
As I listened to my son-in-law preach a sermon on busyness, one word in the Luke 10:38-42 passage jumped off the page at me.
Martha was DISTRACTED. I’m not sure I ever noticed that word in the passage before. Perhaps I was too busy identifying with Martha to notice it. But here it was. In her busyness, Martha was distracted.
She was distracted with busyness.
Did she think Jesus saw her busyness as faithfulness?
Was her busyness driven by pride? Fear? A need to please others? A desire for God’s approval?
Whatever the reason, as Martha bowed to the urgent – feeding her guests and making them comfortable – her attention was diverted from the truly important – time with Jesus.
Make no mistake. We do have to eat, and it is necessary that we do the laundry and take out the trash. But we must learn to discern the urgent from the truly important. Then rather than continually reacting to the urgent things that come at us daily, we must learn to make time for the truly important. It is our choice.
Which is which?
Urgent – compelling or requiring immediate action or attention; imperative; pressing: (www.dictionary.com)
Important – of much or great significance or consequence: mattering much (www.dictionary.com)
How do we tell the difference?
Look to God.
“[B]ut Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14, italics added).
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, italics added).
“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3, italics added).
God longs for us to simply be with Him. He yearns for us to know Him – His love, His embrace. More than any task you can perform, God longs for your heart.
God did not correct Martha’s distorted view of her priorities to make her look bad or to push her away. He wanted to teach her. His desire was to draw her near. He wanted her to sit with Him, to listen, to know. He longed for time with her.
The greatest danger of our busyness is that it keeps us from the feet of Jesus. It keeps us from the truly important by distracting us with the urgent.
We are a doing people. How often when faced with a “situation” do you find yourself responding, “What can I do?” We always want to be doing something. Quiet and stillness make us uncomfortable. They do not feel at all productive.
In contrast to our self-sufficient “Do, do, do” mentality, I think Scripture calls for quite the opposite. Look back at the Scriptures above. I see them revealing a God who is crying out to us, “Don’t just do something. Be still!
Spend some time with Me.
Love Me. Get to know Me. Adjust your life to Me.
Let Me love you.”
I still identify with Martha. I am her – often encumbered with busyness and prone to be distracted by the urgent. However now rather than empathizing with her as the one doing the work and needing help, I empathize with her need to recognize the truly important. And not just to recognize it but move toward it — to identify it, schedule it, and prioritize it.
God’s design for time management?
Use time as God wants us to use it and that means spending time with Him.
Begin there in your management of time.
- Recognize the truly important.
- Make time with God your highest priority.
- Spend time alone with Him.
- Get to know Him.
- Know His love and His embrace.
“When we are crazy busy, we put our souls at risk.” –Kevin DeYoung