Learning to be like Mary in a world of Marthas

a meditation on Luke 10:39


The story of sisters Mary and Martha is a familiar one.  Martha was a worrier moving about with the routine of the day keeping up appearances.  Mary was different.  She spent all the time she could sitting at the feet of Jesus.  Luke records for us,


“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”(Luke 10:38-42)


Jesus uses this classic sibling rivalry to teach a lesson.  He rebukes Martha for being anxious then tells her only one thing is necessary and tells her Mary has chosen the good.  What is the good portion Mary has chosen?  Mary has chosen to love the Lord, not by going about being busy, but by enjoying His presence.


Mary, we are told, sat at Jesus feet, listening to His words.  She was resting from labor by sitting; she was humbling herself by positioning herself at Jesus’ feet and she was a good disciple of the Lord by listening to His word.  Mary chose the good portion.  Now this is not a call to laziness as Martha saw it.  No this is a call to give attention to that which is more important.


The point Jesus was making here is that one can indeed be busy, very busy doing good things, honorable things, worthy things and yet be graceless.  Graceless in two different ways, (1) by missing out on receiving the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to rest in Him and (2) by failing to give grace to others.  For Martha, the person closest to her on earth was her sister Mary and yet she failed to extend grace to her.  The next time you are caught up in your busyness remember what Jesus said, “Mary has chosen the good portion,” and make the time to sit at His feet.


– Pastor Corey Mitchell

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