Friday, March 23, 2018

One Thing is Needed

July 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

peterJesus taught Martha a lesson about priorities. In a world of chaos and distractions, the same lesson applies to us today. Will we learn the lesson?

When Christ walked this earth nearly 2,000 years ago, though He was constantly active and busy, He still made time to visit close friends. Even though He knew He had limited time, spending leisure time with friends was a priority for Him. But even during the more relaxing moments of His ministry, He never a wasted a “teachable moment.” Even when not actively working, Christ was always teaching lessons to those around Him.

One such case is found in the account of His visit with two sisters, Mary and Martha, in Luke 10:38-42. Though few details are given about the evening, we are told that Mary spent the majority of the evening at the feet of Jesus, listening with undivided attention to His words of wisdom (verse 39). Martha, on the other hand, was absorbed in serving Christ (and the other guests) and didn’t take the time to stop and listen to Him (verse 40). Probably overwhelmed and frustrated that she was left to serve food and drinks alone, she asked Christ to tell Mary to stop sitting there listening and get up and help her!

Here is how Christ answered her request: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (verses 41-42).

Christ didn’t rebuke Martha for her acts of service—service is good (Galatians 5:13). But Christ did make two points to Martha that can be helpful to us today. Let’s examine those points.

  • Don’t let the daily cares and troubles of this life consume your thinking.

Jesus Christ pointed out that Martha’s serving was consuming her time and distracting her mind from spiritual thoughts. Her focus on serving was good—but at that moment it was taking her attention away from more important matters. She had the Messiah, God in the flesh, sitting in her home, and her primary focus was on food and drinks. She was letting the opportunity to listen and soak in His words pass her by.

The lesson we can learn is that it’s possible for the daily cares of life to distract us from spiritual endeavors. Our time spent in communicating with God—prayer, Bible study, fasting and meditation—can get minimized in the business of everyday life. Christ warned that people who allow “the cares of this world” to take priority over their relationship with God can fall away (Matthew 13:22). Jesus was, in a manner of speaking, calling Martha’s attention to this danger.

We should pay attention to this danger too!

  • Redeem the time by communing with God.

Jesus Christ also pointed out that during that evening Mary had chosen the only activity that had lasting value. Mary had chosen to break away from physical matters to listen and digest the word of God. She understood this was a rare and fleeting opportunity. Jesus’s time on earth was short and valuable. Mary realized she could not waste the opportunity—she had to be in Christ’s presence and soak up His words.

In Ephesians 5:15-16 the apostle Paul makes a similar point. He instructs us to be “redeeming the time.” In order to do that, we have to be spiritually awake (verse 14). In other words, we must be deeply attuned to God and use our time to become closer to Him.

Christ tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). That means we must make it a time priority! Every physical pursuit—even those that are very important—must be put behind that No. 1 priority.

In a troubled and busy world, it is easy to become immersed in the daily grind. Worries about physical problems can consume our thinking.

Jesus Christ challenged Martha—and He challenges us today—to not let this world and its unending stream of activities create a barrier between us and God, distracting us from the “one thing [that] is needed”—seeking first the Kingdom and Christ’s righteousness (Luke 10:42; Matthew 6:33).


Peter Gabriel is married, lives in Houston, TX and works in his firms Creative Services Department (the internal publishing arm).  Peter also attends the Houston North, Texas, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.

Read our blog “It’s Only a Matter of Time” for more insights on how we use our time.

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