Our passage is found in Luke 10:38-42:
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.
In our passage this morning we will be challenged to never lose our focus as we serve our Lord Jesus Christ.
Martha loved Jesus and invited Him into her house. She wanted to be a good hostess and began serving Him. Almost immediately in our passage we are presented with Martha’s problem. Martha believes her problem is her sister. In verse 39 we read that Martha “had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching.” This displeased Martha greatly. She said to Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” Martha wants Jesus to tell Mary to stop listening and help serve. Listen to Jesus’ response in verses 41-42:
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.
Notice Jesus’ reply. Jesus was not upset with Martha. He did not rebuke or scold her, but he knew that “Martha was distracted with much serving” (40). His reply shows that Martha’s problem is not Mary’s lack of service. Jesus’ gracious reply reveals that while Martha’s heart was in the right place, her problem was her lack of focus on the one thing necessary (listening to Jesus’ teaching).
There are many people who relate to Martha. Martha loved Jesus and desired to serve Him. She welcomed Him into her home and wanted to devote herself to Him. She gave all she had in service to Jesus yet she was anxious and troubled. Jesus said in verse 41, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things.” Why was Martha anxious and troubled? Why was she spiritually struggling?
Martha became so focused on what she was doing for Jesus that she forgot why she was doing it in the first place. When a Christian is anxious and troubled over many things it is usually because they are distracted. In Martha’s case it was because she was distracted with much serving, but anything can serve as a distraction.
Mary, on the other hand, “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching” (39). Jesus tells Martha that “one thing is necessary” (42) and that her sister Mary “has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (42). There is no indication in the text that Mary was lazy or simply trying to avoid helping. Mary desired to learn from Jesus as He taught. Jesus told Martha not to be upset with her sister because her sister was doing the right thing at the right time.
One Thing Necessary
Jesus calls all Christians to serve in the kingdom of God. Ephesians 2:8-10 makes it clear that while we are not saved by our works, we are saved to work. Verse 10 says, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
The one thing necessary for a Christian is to focus on Christ. A Christian’s service is good, but we are to remember why we serve. We are to serve and never lose our focus. We serve Christ for His glory and for His name’s sake. Serving Jesus is good and important, but serving must never distract us from Christ. Your serving should not distract you from consistent, quality time with God. This is not a call to stop serving but a call to examine your reason for serving. In other words, maintain your focus and do not get distracted.
If you are not currently serving Jesus Christ, let this passage challenge you to begin faithful service for His glory. If you are currently serving Jesus Christ to the extent that you are distracted from consistent, quality time with Jesus; understand that you have lost your focus. Confess and repent, focus on Christ and begin faithful service.
Questions for Reflection
- What is a distraction?
- What is the “one thing necessary”/ “good portion” for Jesus’ followers?
- In what ways are you distracted from following Jesus?
- What is the relationship between anxiety and worry and distractions?
- How does a Christian fight against anxiety and worry?
God of my end, it is my greatest, noblest pleasure to be acquainted with Thee and with my rational, immortal soul; it is sweet and entertaining to look into my being when all my powers and passions are united and engaged in pursuit of Thee, when my soul longs and passionately breathes after conformity to Thee and the full enjoyment of Thee; no hours pass away with so much pleasure as those spent in communion with Thee and with my heart. –Puritan Prayer of Devotion