The Good Part

Published by DonDavidson on

Most of us either work for a living or have worked for a living, and that work often involves difficult or unpleasant tasks. When you are working hard and a fellow employee is goofing off or not pulling his weight, we naturally feel resentment toward that individual. And if your supervisor praised them despite their lack of effortor worse, because of itthat would seem terribly unfair, would it not?

So the story Luke tells in chapter 10 of his gospel feels really strange. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, invites Jesus into her home and then goes to a lot of trouble to make him feel welcome and comfortable. Meanwhile, her sister, Mary, does nothing to help, but merely sits at Jesus’ feet drinking in his teaching.

I suspect that Martha not only wanted some help from her sister, but also some recognition and appreciation for her efforts. Yet Jesus gives her nothing, instead taking Mary’s side when Martha complains:

Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but only one thing is necessary; for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

(Luke 10:41-42, NASB)

Is Jesus saying that laziness is better than work? No. Is he saying that we should abandon working for a living and devote ourselves to Bible study? Surely not.

What he is saying is that we need to get our priorities in order. Martha and Mary had a golden opportunity to hear wisdom from the source of all wisdom, and Martha was blowing her chance. Martha’s work would have waited until after Jesus had finished teaching. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is an appointed time for everything,” and that was the time to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from the Master.

How many times do we miss opportunities God sets before us because we are busy with something we think is important?

How many times do we pass a stranded motorist because there’s somewhere else we’re supposed to be?

How many times do we miss the opportunity to help a friend or co-worker because we are distracted by something else?  

How many times do we zone out on a Sunday sermon because we’re thinking about all the things we have to do later that day?

For me, the answer to each of these questions is “too many.”

But we can take comfort in the fact that God isn’t keeping count of our many failures, for “there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1, NASB)

Note that Jesus didn’t scold or condemn Martha. He was actually pretty gentle in his response. He just wanted her to appreciate what Mary already understood—that devotion to God should be our top priority. That is what the Greatest Commandment is all about. (Mark 12:28-30.)

And loving our neighbor is almost as important. (Mark 12:31.)


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