As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman names Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet LISTENING to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help.” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 38-42)
Oh, my, there are so many insights in this brief anecdote!
First, let’s look at Martha – a wonderful woman with a spirit of service and hospitality but one whose strengths in that area got out of balance. (That’s where most of our problems come in, too. We do or use too much of our gifts, and when that happens, our strengths can become weaknesses. Can you relate to that?) Anyway, we see that Martha warmly welcomed at least 13 people into her home who had “dropped in.” Well, yes, that would be a challenge, wouldn’t it? She was a trooper for taking that on. So far, so good.
But then Martha got off track. No, she didn’t get off track by any “traditional sin.” The scripture says she became distracted by the preparations that had to be made (or at least she told herself that she had no choice but to do them). To really understand this phrase, we need to go to the Greek (which I don’t purport to know myself, but I have some great reference books).
“Distracted” in this passage doesn’t just mean that her attention was diverted, although that could be part of it. The world actually means “to cumber, drag all around, distraught with care.” Have you ever felt weighed down, put upon when you felt like you were doing something all by yourself and others should be helping? Martha wasn’t just bustling around, whistling a happy tune. I can hear her making just a lit-tle too much noise with her cooking and cleaning tasks. She was a somewhat ticked off.
But what was it that she was actually doing? What does the word “preparations” mean in the richness of the original language? This is where it gets very interesting. This world doesn’t just mean cooking and cleaning. Her work was described by the Greek word as “serving, ministering in divine things.” Who among us would not commend her for spiritual ministry? Shouldn’t we always be doing that? What could possibly be wrong with do, do, doing for the Lord? (Ahem! Listen up, all of us who fall into this category! Jesus is about to reveal something extremely important to us do-gooders.)
It is entirely possible to be so busy about good things, spiritual things that we neglect the practice that is critical to successful living. That spiritual discipline is taking the time not only to talk to God but to be quiet before Him and listen. Don’t rush in, give Him your laundry list, and rush out.
Be still, and know! Learn to hear and recognize His Voice. You familiarize yourself with it by hearing it so many times, it’s like answering your phone and hearing the voice of your son or daughter. You know that Voice!
Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by so many good things that you miss God’s best!
Lord, I want to focus on You. I want to stop talking and listen. Sharpen my discernment so that I never miss hearing Your Voice when You are speaking to me!