We expend a lot of energy on matters that mean very little in the grand scheme of things. As we progress through life, our attention is drawn to worldly concerns, shiny objects and frivolous worries that distract us from that which is truly important. Martha was that way. Mary was not. We all have the tendency to be like one or the other. Balance is a challenge.
It takes a powerful imagination to step into the picture (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus was coming to their house. How does a person prepare for the Savior, God-in-the-flesh coming for a visit? It would certainly send us scurrying to make sure all was in order. Dust the shelves, wash the dishes, straighten up the living room and a dozen other chores to see that everything is just right. The Lord is coming.
Martha was hustling when He arrived. Mary was sitting. Listening. Her sister was busy, and she simply sat at His feet hanging on every word. Martha was grouchy doing all of the “important” stuff without help. That was not fair. Didn’t He care? Shouldn’t He command the “lazy” one to help her? It is a bit of a distorted view of things to chastise the Lord and ask if He cares. Does He care? Really? It is amazing what well-intentioned distractions will do to us.
Jesus set the record straight. There is no doubt that Martha’s labors were good, but there was something better that Mary had chosen. Stop. Sit. Listen. His are words of eternal life (John 6:63). What could be more important than that? A voice from heaven proclaimed the very same thing on the Mount of Transfiguration: Listen to My Son. The good will sometimes interfere with the better which will never be taken away.
There are certainly tasks at hand and responsibilities that demand our attention, but they must not take us away from the most important thing in any life: our relationship with the Lord. In fact, they provide an opportunity to put our Christian principles on display. Worldly circumstances arise that test us, and we often blame them for our actions. They don’t cause our behavior but reveal how real our commitment to Jesus is and that determines our actions. The real issue is far deeper that a word or deed.
Christians strive for that which is excellent. That’s a cut above good. We aren’t content with mediocrity. The Lord created us for greater things, and the pathway to that is through knowledge and discernment (Philippians 1:9-11). In other words, quietly sitting at the Lord’s feet to listen. Each time we expose our minds to His words we are choosing the better part. Let’s put ourselves in the house with Martha and Mary. Who would we be? The grumpy, complaining one who was just too busy to listen or the one who made the better choice?