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Grace Notes: One thing needful
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Are you busy? You know that question precedes someone asking for a moment of your time, right? You know that it might come off as rude to say "yes" and then walk away, even if you are busy. But you are busy, aren’t you? Doesn’t it always seem that there are more things to do than time, money, and energy to do them? Are there things you don’t get to because your life is so hectic? My guess is "yes."

Now here is the question: What are those things? This question is the one that will reveal your priorities and dedication to following through on your priorities. You see, it is so easy to get caught up in the urgent and forget about the important. Some things we do have visible, tangible results and some don’t. And when we don’t do those visible things, that is also pretty plain to see. But the invisible, the spiritual things, the things that don’t produce a product we can hold — well, not doing them isn’t always as immediately noticeable, right? How often don’t we let that fact keep us from following our priorities and doing the urgent instead of the important?

I’m guessing if I would ask you how important God is to you, he’d rank pretty high on your list. I’m also guessing that there are times when I wouldn’t be able to tell that by looking at your life. We want to spend time with him in his word, growing in faith, learning from him. But then life happens, and there are projects to do around the house and events to go to and kids to shuttle and work to get done and entertainment to enjoy — and before you know it another day goes by without time spent studying the word, rejoicing in his love, communicating with God… and then another week, and another month….

We need to learn the lesson of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. These sisters were welcoming the great teacher Jesus into their home — which meant work. But instead of helping, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening. Martha was stressed — so much to do and no help. And the things she was doing were good things — even serving her Savior. So she asked Jesus to make her sister help her. Here is Jesus’ reply:

"Martha, Martha, 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."

As important as the things we accomplish are — they are nothing compared to what has been accomplished for us. Yes, it is a privilege to serve the Savior — but without time spent being served by him in his word, without those moments at Jesus’ feet — all that service is just busywork. Because, at Jesus’ feet we see the real work that needed to be done. At Jesus’ feet, we understand how necessary his suffering and death were, how much we needed the forgiveness he won. And at Jesus’ feet, we are reminded of that salvation complete. At Jesus’ feet, our hearts are filled with the motivation for our acts of love. That motivation is his love for us.

So learn a lesson from Mary. No matter how much you have to do — take your opportunities to spend time at Jesus’ feet. Read your Bible. Come to Bible Study. Come to worship and celebrate Christ’s work for you. That’s what you need before you can really accomplish anything else. Choose what is better than busyness and it will not be taken away from you.

The Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at