Worried and upset? Not her!
We have read this passage countless times and heard just as many lessons about them. Their lives are familiar, as well as their tendencies. We can usually relate to one more than the other. Their names……Martha and Mary.
This time, God showed me a new lesson from their story that has been valuable.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called 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 me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
What I see in this passage is that only one woman was upset. The other sat peacefully, even though her sister was accusing and condemning her in front of a room full of men, not to mention Jesus. This did not seem to rattle her though and it makes me want to understand why.
How could this be?
It was breaking social etiquette for Mary to be sitting in a room full of men anyway, no matter if they were talking about religion. The text reveals that Mary was being as unobtrusive as possible. She wasn’t one of the ones talking nor was she probably interested in what the other men had to say. She was sitting at the feet of Christ for one reason- to listen to what HE had to say.
Instead of abiding by the cultural norm of that time, Mary chose differently. In essence, she chose to put herself at risk of judgment, ridicule, and humiliation. But that didn’t seem to bother her. Again, why?
I think the answer is in the text plainly.
Mary chose what was better.
And in order to choose what is better, you have to RECOGNIZE what is better.
Let’s look at how this had to be processed for this to happen.
4 Ways to Choose What is Better
1. Discernment to know what is better
When Mary surveyed the scene, you know she had to realize what was expected of her. Yet she deliberately took a place at the feet of Jesus among the men. The risk she chose to take was determined to be worth the chance of listening up close and personal to the Messiah. Mary discerned that what she could gain from listening to Jesus was worth the price it could cost her. Her discernment was rooted in her knowledge of Who was in the room. She really understood the miraculous opportunity in front of her. The more we grasp who God is, the greater our discernment will be in any given situation because we will be processing with the wisdom that fear of the Lord brings.
2. Wisdom to prioritize what is better
As Mary processed the moment, she had to make a decision on what she evaluated. It is one thing to KNOW what is better, it is another to CHOOSE what is better. Wisdom makes the most of each opportunity.It is one thing to KNOW what is better. It is another to CHOOSE what is better. Wisdom makes the most of each opportunity. Click To Tweet
When I was younger, with three kids under 4 years of age, I had to figure out a way to get time with the Lord. I learned that I can do a lot of things with a baby on my hip. I can cook, clean, wash, garden, and so forth. So when the kids were quiet and self-occupied for a few moments, instead of tackling chores or taking pleasure in a quick nap, I would run to my spot where I had my quiet time.
There were a lot of things I COULD DO but only one thing that I SHOULD DO to make the most of that opportunity. It was the “one thing needed” and worth so much more to me as a woman than a magazine or a nap. Time with Jesus was the answer to all my needs, one way or another. He became a balm to my soul!
The reason I learned that back then was the precious lesson Mary taught me years ago. What a lifesaver for a young mother!
3. Courage to choose what is better
Knowing and doing are two different things. Mary may have known what was better but she still had to muster up the courage to choose it. To buck the system of her day, not to mention stir the ire of her sister, took guts. She had to believe that the prize would be worth the cost. Soaking in the nearness of Christ became worth her all that day.
How many of us lose this battle every day and with so much less at stake than Mary?! The reason we don’t try so hard to be with Jesus is that we don’t yet realize how truly valuable He is.The reason we don't try so hard to be with Jesus is that we don't yet realize how truly valuable He is. Click To Tweet
4. Fortitude to ignore distractions
As Mary chose what was better, she was immediately met with distractions clamoring against her choice. I’m sure that before Martha publically called her out in front of Jesus, Mary had to hear the whispers of Martha or notice the evil eye she was using to gain her sister’s attention. If she was anything like me, she probably banged a couple of pots in the kitchen to send the not-so-subtle message that help would be most appreciated.
Nevertheless, Mary ignored what would get in the way of her choosing what was better. And so should we.
The chores, sleep, errands, the endless activities of our family, have to take second place to the one thing “needed”- time with Jesus. How else will we ever be able to listen to Him? Is His life-giving truth ever going to be able to make a difference in our lives in the midst of all the noise and distractions of our day?
No! We have to become like Mary and not only choose what is better but ignore what isn’t!We have to become like Mary and not only choose what is better but ignore what isn't! Click To Tweet
The Simplicity of Choosing What Is Better
The great news is that we don’t have to be worried and upset about many things like Martha. We can be at peace like Mary as we focus on the one thing that is needed. Matthew 6:31-33 explains the mindset that helps this happen.
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
I have seen this happen over and over again in my own life. When I seek after God first, the rest of life falls into place as it should.
I’m not saying that we won’t have problems or that life is perfect when we seek God first, but I am saying that the peace of Christ permeates our soul no matter how many pots are clanging in the kitchen.