Do you recall the story of Mary and Martha? Jesus comes to visit these two sisters, and upon His arrival they have two very different responses to His presence in their midst. Martha is busy hosting her guest, while Mary stops everything to sit at Jesus’ feet and soak up His teaching. I’ve always imagined that Martha was the elder sister with her attention to detail and desire to ensure hospitality is perfect! She quickly gets irritated with her sister, pulling Jesus into the situation to recruit Mary’s help with hospitality.
Jesus’ response, as always, goes beyond the circumstance at hand to serve as a great lesson for us all. Rather than asking Mary to help, He speaks to Martha that she is consumed with much, and tells her one thing is necessary. “Look at your sister. She has chosen not to be anxious with other things, rather to focus upon the greatest one. She has chosen to spend time with me, which cannot and will not be taken from her,” (my paraphrasing). The message is clear, much in life can draw us from the greatest need of spending time with Jesus.
I also noticed something in this familiar passage that had not captured my attention before. As an aside, this is the joy of reading, digesting and allowing God to speak to us through the pages of His Word which is living and active as the Holy Spirit reveals new things each time we approach the Bible. The phrase that caught my attention is found in verse 42; “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” These words gave me cause to pause and reflect, and a question emerged for me as a result.
How much in life that consumes my days is fleeting? Or, to put it differently, what in life is truly lasting? Jesus reminded Mary that the good portion, time spent in His presence, listening, learning, and then implementing His teaching, will not be taken away. These things are lasting and enduring. In contrast, Martha was allowing herself to be distracted by many things, albeit important in the moment. However, guests would come and go, cleaning would be needful again. Preparations for the “next thing” would soon be undertaken, and time would march on. Yet, the good portion, the time spent with Jesus, would endure. And more than merely endure, time with Jesus would transform and have a lasting impact upon the life of Mary and Martha.
So it is in our own lives. Among all the obligations and tasks of life, the most needful is spending time with, listening to, and putting into practice all that Jesus taught and to seek Him for the life He desires to give us. Following Him, or discipleship, is the most vital and rewarding investment we make in our lives.
As you are about your schedule this week, I’d ask you to reflect upon Jesus’ words as I have. Have you chosen the good portion that will not be taken away? Maybe you need to make time to sit at Jesus’ feet more regularly on Sundays mornings, or to carve out time to study His Word in a Growth Group, or in Sunday School and Youth Group. All of us need the reminder as did Martha to make time to daily linger in His presence. Look at your week in light of choosing the better portion, to grow in the likeness of Jesus.