You may know the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10. Jesus comes to town, and Martha welcomes him into her house. She bustles about, cooking and making things hospitable. Her sister, Mary, sits with Jesus and listens to him speak. Fed up, Martha tries to get Jesus to make Mary help her out in the kitchen. He replies, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it — it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”
I have often heard this passage taught to women in this way: “Stop being so Pinterest-perfect and just sit at Jesus’ feet.” I’ve heard women say, laughing, “Oh, I’m such a Martha! I just want everything in my house to be just right. I need to just stop being this way.” These aren’t bad lessons; many people may need to consider that. But I think it’s an error to stop there.
This moment in Jesus’ life is not a domestic lesson. I don’t think it is a only for women. It’s not a lesson on hospitality or cooking or the home.
In this passage, Jesus is giving us permission to focus our lives on just one thing. Him.
“However much you advance, O believer, you never advance beyond this; whatever your experience, or your information, or your ripeness for glory, it is needful still to sit at Jesus’ feet.” — C.H. Spurgeon, 1871
Think of your desk. Now imagine taking your arm and swiping your desk clear. (I’ve always wanted to do that, haven’t you? But oh, the cleanup.) Look at the pile of rubble on the floor. What deserves to be put back on the desk?
Imagine your calendar — those ongoing commitments and things you fill your day with. Wipe it clear. Take everything off. What deserves to be put back on? I’ve listened to some productivity experts talk about commitments “earning their way onto your calendar.” It’s a fascinating exercise that reveals how many things just creep onto our plates without us paying attention.
The concept is interesting from a time management perspective, but more so from a spiritual one. How we spend our limited resources (money, time, energy) reveals our priorities. And oh, these resources are limited.
Choose the main course; it won’t be taken from you.
This isn’t a lesson on time management or work/life balance. It’s about taking measured steps toward Jesus. We don’t have to be frantically bustling about in life. We can decide to sit at his feet first.
Are you filling up on the bread plate? Distracting yourself with what is easy instead of what is important? Too often, the things we choose have nothing to do with God’s calling. But Jesus gives us permission to focus on him instead.