“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.’” (Luke 10:38-42, NIV)
Viewed by many as overly organized, I like to get matters taken care of. Teaching a Bible study, writing Christian devotions, maintaining a home—all good things I easily become engrossed in. But as I’ve heard it said before,
I don’t want to be so busy working for God that I’m too busy for God.
Today’s featured scripture tells the story of Martha who was so occupied tending to preparations that she was missing what Jesus had to say. Can you envision Martha fluttering around her house tidying up, cooking food, and serving her guests? Meanwhile, Mary is sitting near Jesus soaking up his teachings. Martha was probably disturbed, but she didn’t know what else to do. So many tasks, even though I believe her deep desire was to listen to the Teacher after she readied the meal.
I have struggled with this same issue in my life, and while I don’t have it down perfectly, I’m learning. My goal is to achieve a Martha-Mary balance between doing what it takes to get ministry items done versus spending time with our Lord and other important relationships.
The balance is tricky, but prioritizing will benefit us. As Pastor Andy Stanley plainly states, “We don’t drift in good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.”
To begin with, we need to make time each day to meet with our Lord in prayer and Bible study. Some days are smoother than others are, but God knows our intentions as we give Him our heart. Soon enough, the remainder of the day will evaporate, so let’s attempt to set aside time. Time at our desks or kitchen tables for regular Bible study. Time for prayer as we remove ourselves to a quiet spot in our homes or go on our morning walks, while remembering we can also talk to our Heavenly Father throughout the day.
Next, take time for relationships. When busyness swallows us up, and what we believe to be urgent is our preoccupation, we run over and forget people. This includes our family, our friends, our neighbors—all vital relationships. Recently I’ve had to scale back on a ministry activity because it wasn’t allowing me the freedom to nurture and sustain some friendships. Do you find yourself in a similar situation?
Finally, I encourage you to run a smooth household, but without tripping up over petty details. It keeps family members happier and in the end, frees you up. Every home is different, and you know whether it involves getting dinners on the table in a timely fashion, or keeping an up-to-date calendar, or clearing away the clutter. My encouragement is to get it done, as over the long-term those action steps will provide additional time for you to abide with your first love—Jesus.
A certain amount of busyness seems a guarantee these days. But if we become absorbed in all the “stuff,” we fail to see Jesus in the midst of our lives. Such a cliché—stop and smell the roses—but how true it is. My prayer for you, and for myself, is for us to slow down and know Jesus.
Father God, Often my Martha-like actions prevent me from being more like Mary. I want to immerse myself in Your presence, but still live in a responsible manner. Please help me to achieve a Martha-Mary balance in my life which glorifies You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Psalm 46:10a (NIV): “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV): “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”
Matthew 6:33 (NIV): “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 11:28 (NIV): “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
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