The Only Necessary Thing...

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

"....but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:42 NIV)


These words from the book of Luke ring in my head and startle my to-do list to the core. My calendar is full, too full and yet, only one thing is necessary? I beg to differ Lord - did you check out my day planner? It comforts me some however that my days even now mirror those from Jesus' time walking the earth. There were chores to do and people to please, floors to sweep up and life's moments got strained and stretched out, and nerves pulled thin, just like mine all too often.


In this famous scene we read that while Jesus sat and spoke, Mary sat listening intently, and many others sat around them. The one person not sitting, but was instead running around like the house was on fire is the one in the story I resonate with most - Martha, Mary's older sister. She is the one busy doing everything required for the dinner party occurring soon in their home.

Finally, she can't take anymore and Martha erupts; “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (verse 40) Martha lost it and even gets impatient with Jesus it seems. I flinch and wonder if I would have done the exact same. It is all too easy for me to jump into the impatience pool, splashing around and throwing around blame, too agitated to relax.


She was busy doing everything except what she needed most; soaking in Jesus' peace, joy and soul-reaching words. Her actions were important, yes, but not really necessary. Jesus gently reminds her to stop all of the worry, stop the criticism, stop and enjoy the moment at hand with Him. The hungry bellies in the room could wait while she filled her empty and starving soul with what really mattered: God's Words of life.


Feeding and tending to people and undone things are worthwhile endeavors and part of my days down here. However, if I put those in front of, or worse, in place of sitting with Christ who fills my heart with good things and with a servant's spirit, then no matter what I do for others, it won't be as wonderful or as worthy as it could or should be. My acts will be merely empty cymbal clangs, all harsh noise with no harmony to those around me. Christ offers us the "renewing of our minds" (Romans 12:2) and therefore, in the process our responses to people and circumstances get cleaned up and changed for the better too.


Working, cooking, cleaning and tending keep our family fed and homes uncluttered, but if our hearts are chock full of old and bitter things, then we must remove them. We must choose Jesus or we are not choosing the precious, the needed, and the eternal. I am pressing myself these days to do this in each choice I make. I am pausing more, praying more, sitting at His feet more and being filled with the necessary gift that He alone offers - and you know what? This clears the way for the better, indeed the very best of things.


I am grateful He has made a way to vacuum out my heart. I will choose to stop and listen for awhile. The vacuuming of the floors can wait...for now.



How about you? Are you more of a Martha or Mary type? Which part of each of these women can you appreciate today?

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