On Monday we looked at the account of the rich young ruler and the “one thing lacking” in his life—the only thing he truly needed. Today I want to give you a different view of the “one thing needed,” as presented in the story of two sisters, Martha and Mary.
“Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)
Jesus was welcomed into the home of Martha and Mary, who were preparing a meal for him. When Jesus began to teach, Mary stopped her preparations and sat at the feet of Jesus to listen to His every word. Martha, on the other hand, kept right on preparing the meal. Like the rich young ruler, there is much to be admired about Martha, at least on the surface. She was focused and faithful in her service to Jesus. She was busily engaged in the many things that were needed to complete the preparations for the meal.
Yet, once again, with all the good stuff that Martha was engaged in, to the penetrating eye of our Savior, there was still “one thing needed” in her life. Just as there was one thing lacking in the life of the rich young ruler, who seemed to have it all, Martha, in spite of her wonderful hospitality and focus on the task at hand, was still lacking the one thing that she needed most.
You see, the difference between the sisters, Martha and Mary, was that Mary knew when to stop serving and start sitting at the feet of Jesus. Martha complained to Jesus that Mary had left her alone to make the necessary preparations. So Mary had been, in fact, serving alongside of her sister. But Mary knew when sitting was more important than serving, and that is when you have the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus.
Do you and I know the same truth? We can be so busily engaged in doing the Lord’s work that we forget all about the Lord Himself. Giving our service to our Lord is a very good thing . . . but giving ourselves to our Lord is a better thing. Jesus made that clear by saying, “Mary has chosen what is better,” which was taking a place at the feet of Her Master.
What does the confession of our lives say about this truth? Remember, there was nothing wrong with the preparations Martha was making for her Lord. What was wrong was giving the work a higher priority over the Lord Himself. This is the message we are to glean from this “one thing needed” in the life of Martha, as we, like Mary, choose what is better than service: Our Savior!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!