“The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).

Have you ever walked into another room only to stand there and try to remember why you went in there? Or maybe you have pulled out your phone to text someone, but got distracted by a notification and completely forgot why you took it out in the first place. Sometimes we become so distracted by the things we’re doing that we forget why we are doing them.37175_OneThing_Luke10

This is exactly what is happening in the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus comes to town, and the two sisters have completely opposite reactions to Him. Martha immediately begins to clean the house, make food and do her best to keep Jesus entertained. Mary, instead of helping her sister or rushing around the house, decides to merely sit and spend time learning from Jesus. In the end, Jesus says to Martha, “ . . . you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (vv. 41-42). Martha had so much anxiety about all the things she needed to do that she forgot why she was doing them. We are often the same way. Like a man who earns money to support his family but is too busy to spend time with them, we often become too distracted by our tasks in life that we forget what life is all about.

The purpose of our lives is to be in relationship with Jesus. Though life is sometimes busy, we must never forget to spend time with Him and recognize that our lives exist to glorify and honor Christ in all that we do. It’s not that Martha was doing anything wrong, she had just lost sight of the purpose of it. Working hard at a job, perfecting a sport or striving for the best grades are all good things, but they are not the “one thing.” None of those things should consume our lives so much that we begin to live for them.

It should be our goal to not miss out on the “good portion” because we were doing something else.

We also see that Martha wasn’t too busy with just anything, she was too busy serving God. It’s no coincidence that the story of Martha and Mary comes right after Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. In this story, Jesus speaks about several people, including a priest and Levite, who walked right by a man who was on the verge of death. The priest and Levite were probably on their way to worship in the temple, so they felt like they didn’t have time to help. Both of them, looking toward the ground, shuffled their feet past the dying man in a hurry to the temple. Though Jews and Samaritans were social enemies, it was a Samaritan who sacrificed his time and resources to nurse the Jew back to life. Instead of extending God’s heart of compassion, the religious people were far too busy in their religiosity to help.

Much like the Levite and Priest, Martha was distracted in her service to God. Sometimes serving in the church, street witnessing, or even attending our small group can be done with the wrong heart. We can do all these things and completely miss the point. We’re not doing any of these things to earn our salvation because Jesus has already earned it for us. It is also easy to “serve God” hoping to receive attention or to appear spiritual. But the real reason that we serve, witness and fellowship together is to glorify God and grow closer to Him. We don’t want to be the person who walks by the dying man to go “do ministry” or is busy doing things for God that we don’t have time to learn from Him. Though our motives will never be perfect, we must continually adjust our focus to be on Jesus and never forget that He is the reason for all that we do.

Search the Scriptures

  • Matthew 6:25-33
  • Psalm 16:11
  • Ephesians 2:8-10
  • John 6:27

Questions to Consider: 

  • Do you tend to be more of a Mary or a Martha? Do you ever find yourself missing the point of church, worship or anything else pertaining to the Christian life?
  • It wasn’t just that Martha was busy working; it was that she let those things consume her, and she missed the point. How can we work hard in school or at jobs and still keep Jesus as the center of it?
  • Do you spend time “at the feet of Jesus?” What does your normal devotion time look like?

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