38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 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.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
We had a women’s retreat this past weekend with the ladies from our church, and I wanted to put down some thoughts that were a takeaway for me so I don’t forget them. Our speaker, Betsy Harris, blessed us by speaking in three sessions on Growing in Godliness. We looked at examining our definition of godliness as more than mere behavior, but as that which is better defined as “devotion to God which results in actions which please God.” Deep devotion to God is the beginning and the goal. We spent much time developing what it is to be deeply devoted to God and having a deep and personal relationship with Him through cultivating a right fear of God, appreciation of the love of God, and desire for God. Recordings of her sessions will be available on the church website soon and I recommend them!
There was so much that I took notes on and am going to benefit from reviewing, but I am not going to go in depth in this blogpost. Here I just wanted to share something that struck me and that I’m still pondering and meditating on today. The second session dealt with training for Godliness, and she closed it with the passage from Luke 10 about Mary and Martha that is so very familiar to many of us. But this time as I listened to Betsy describe the language in the passage, how Martha basically bursts out and demands that Jesus tell Mary to help her, I got to thinking about it in a way I hadn’t before. I’ve usually heard this taught as sort of a caution against being distracted and caring too much about putting on a perfect dinner party or caught up in the busyness of life and neglecting time with the Lord, and that is correct. But what truly struck me was Jesus’ compassion for her in her distraction and frustration.
Here’s what I’m getting at. Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet learning from Him, in a culture and time when rabbis did not teach women, Jesus was willing and wanted to teach her. She was learning from Jesus, God With Us, the Lamb who would take away the sin of the world. And the tragedy is that Martha was missing this opportunity. She was missing it! And it seems from the exchange, that she was missing it for the sake of an expectation she had placed on herself, that it wasn't something Jesus was asking her to do. She would have been welcome to sit at his feet, too. In her good intentions to serve well, she was missing the main thing! She was missing the precious opportunity to be taught by the rabbi of all rabbis because she was ‘anxious and troubled about many things,’ yet she was missing the main thing, the one thing that is necessary - to hear from Jesus. And Jesus is so very gentle in His correction, drawing her back to the main thing.
I don’t know how to write this in a way that adequately conveys why that brought me to tears, but I think it’s the tragedy of missing it, missing the main thing while being busy with important, but not most necessary things. How often do I rush, rush, rush through reading my Bible in the morning but neglect to really think about what I’ve read to the point where I’m taking part in what is most necessary, to commune with Jesus and train my heart to desire Him first? How often do I not take the time to pray until I’ve truly prayed? How often to I go through the motions during the day and not reflect upon what an awesome thing it is that God would save any of us, let alone that He would save me?
May I develop a right fear of God that leads to a deep reverence and devotion to Him that wells up in a right rejoicing in Him that grows and leads to actions that please Him every day. I’m thankful we got to ponder growing in Godliness this weekend, and I pray it will produce good fruit in the days to come.