“…but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
On Mondays, she read to students in the church school. On Tuesdays, she volunteered as a receptionist in the front office. Each Wednesday she helped cook for the supper before the midweek evening service. On Thursdays, she worked in the memorial rose garden and shopped for supplies for the church office. Fridays were her day off, so she only washed vestments and dirty altar linens. And on Saturday she helped get the church ready for the next day’s services.
So what did Sister Suzy do on Sundays? Well, after making final preparations for the post-service reception, she was usually worn out, so she stayed in the kitchen and had a few cups of coffee. All of her work for the church had made her too tired to actually worship.
This is more or less what was happening in today’s scripture. Mary and Martha were both very dear to Jesus, and they both appeared to be eager for his arrival. Martha had an apparent gift of hospitality, and she spent her time attending to every detail so that Jesus would enjoy his time in their home. She cooked, she cleaned, she served, and she never sat down until everyone need was met.
Mary, meanwhile, sat close to Jesus and absorbed His teaching. She listened carefully to every word He said and planted them deep in her heart. This, of course, was not acceptable to Martha. She was killing herself as the self-appointed head cook and bottle washer, and Mary was just lounging around and hanging out with Jesus and His disciples. Martha even went so far as to reprimand the Lord, telling Him to put her lazy sister to work.
Jesus, however, saw the bigger picture. He reminded Martha that, while she worried about every detail of the dinner, Mary contented herself with the “one thing” that “is necessary.” That one thing, namely, is a relationship with Jesus. While Martha’s service to the Lord was certainly appreciated, it didn’t take the place of actually spending time with Him.
We all know that life will keep you off-balance by demanding you pay attention to countless details. But that even happens in our faith life and in our service to others in the church. We can get so busy serving the Lord that we forget to spend time with Him. Today, make a point of taking time apart to pray and read the Bible – and try to make that a habit for every day – including Sundays! Don’t let busyness, both inside and outside of the church, keep you from the one thing that is necessary and that can never be taken away.
Reflection copyright © 2018 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.