I know you’ve heard of this one; “The Mary, Martha syndrome” Yup, we take a step back on purpose to remind us we need to be careful not to let the good things in our life rob us of the God things. Backing up to a small scene with huge implications in Luke 10, we find Jesus coming into the home of His single friends Martha, Mary and Lazarus. This is place where Jesus can find rest and relaxation from His busy schedule. He has just about six months left before He will be crucified and he stops by His friend’s house to take a break. The focus is so tight that only the three main characters are mentioned, but we would do well to remember at this point in His ministry Jesus twelve disciples were always with Him (and they may be with Him here as well).
This is worth mentioning because we meet Martha who scrambling to make preparations for a meal and trying to make everything right for her friend, Lord and guests and that is a good thing. We also meet Mary who is found sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening, (a God thing) while Martha is rushing around trying to get things done. Get the scene in your mind Jesus is seated center stage, Mary sitting at His feet and Martha is running in circles around them and it happens: The whole scene comes to a head in two parts — Martha points out she is doing a good thing (and could use some much needed help) and Jesus confirms she is doing a good thing and points out she is missing the God thing because of it: “…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.” (Lk 10:41-42) Now don’t miss understand — Life gets busy, good things are still good things, there are important things that must get done. But, first things must come first.
Neither Jesus or anyone else is advocating we just sit around and read our Bibles at the neglect of other things, We Jesus is saying is He is the first priority! If the good things have become so much that they are crowding out the God thing, take a step back, re-prioritize, place the best thing, which is the God thing (Time spent with the Lord daily in His word and prayer) at the top of the list of all the good things you will do today.
Dr. William Burnham is pastor of Point of Grace Church in Covington. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.