Luke 10:41-42 – “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.”
ay I not be worried and troubled about many things; only one thing is needed. Like Mary, may I choose the good part, which will not be taken away from me.
Martha was busy…busy cooking, cleaning, organizing, preparing…just plain busy. Her work was important. She was entertaining guests and someone, after all, had to act responsibly. She was busy “doing.”
Mary didn’t seem quite so busy. What was she doing? Chatting, listening… seemingly lounging about. What distinguished what Mary was doing from just plain laziness was whom she was with – the Lord Jesus Christ. She wasn’t necessarily busy “doing.” Instead, she was “being”…being in relationship. She was basking in the presence of the Lord Jesus. He was an invited guest who would not always be with them. What else should she have done? Mary chose the one thing needed and was told that it would not be taken from her.
How often do so very many in our world look down on Mary’s kind. “Why, nothing would ever get done if Mary and her ilk had their way,” we might hear. But that’s not exactly true. It’s not like Mary was a habitually lazy person who lay around the house in her pajamas until noon on a regular basis. This was different. Much different. She was in relationship with her invited Guest.
Furthermore, we need to take a closer look at the text. Jesus doesn’t admonish her for spending time with him; he admonished Martha. Like the poor, so too our jobs, chores, errands, etc., will always be with us. But what of Christ? Well, he promised to always be with us, but in a practical sense he must be our invited Guest each day. He must be the One with whom we can just “be” for a little while… each day. Jesus said that that is the one thing needed and it will not be taken from us when we pursue it.
Not only that, but “being” must precede “doing” or else “doing” will turn into drudgery, bitterness, and even pointlessness. Moreover, without time to “just be” with our Lord, we will run out of gas. We’ll burn out. We won’t persevere until the end. Our “doing” may shine brightly for a season, but it won’t last for the long haul because it will not have the fuel of Christ’s Spirit to sustain it. And that fuel comes only through the one thing necessary – pursuing our ongoing relationship with the living God through his Son, Jesus Christ.
Finally, even if the reasons cited above to pursue the one thing weren’t true (and they are), the main reason we ought to pursue knowing God and his Son, Jesus Christ is because, according to Jesus himself, that is eternal (and abundant) life (John 17:3).
Are you pursuing the one thing in life truly needful? There are many competitors vying for your time, energy, attention, etc. Some of these things are even good. But don’t let the good become the enemy of the best. Choose the best. Choose consecrated (set apart) time each day to spend with your Lord. He promises you that it is indeed the one thing needed and it will not be taken away from you.
PS – My experience is that when we spend that “set apart” time with him, we’re better able to “practice his presence” throughout the rest of the day as well.
PSS – The following quote fits this very subject quite well…
“This past century is possibly the first one in which action has been emphasized and valued more than contemplation. Today we think contemplation wastes time, produces nothing, and bumps awkwardly into our schedules. A devotional life is a questionable priority for most successful people today. But are we “successful” Christians if we are so busy organizing and propagating the Christian faith that we really do not know God personally and intimately?” (James Houston)
Grace and Truth,