When Jesus rebuked Martha, it sounds like listening to Jesus is the only thing we should spend time doing. Is this a correct understanding of the passage?
Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,
but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion.
Preparing for guests coming to dinner last year, I went a little overboard on the dessert. Instead of making one pan of mini pies, which would have easily served us all, I thought a variety would be nice. And I went a bit overboard. Six pies each of four varieties was close to five times more than we needed. Freezer space made storing the excess for a later date easy. Neither the time nor the extra pies were wasted.
There is a but to this story and it comes in relation to Jesus’ response to Martha’s question. I spent so much time preparing more food than was needed for my guests that I left no time that day for reading the Bible or listening to Jesus.
Hospitality was an important part of the culture Jesus lived in. Hospitality can only be done well if time is spent preparing for the guests who will come. Yet it can be far too easy to get caught up on the doing part of life. When that happens, we often neglect Jesus’ call to be with Him, to spend time listening to His teaching and wisdom.
Balance of Listening and Doing
Jesus calls us to serve the poor, feed the hungry, and cloth the naked. The need can be so great that we can easily spend all our time doing what Jesus calls us to and not spend any time with Jesus Himself.
But spending all our time serving was not the example Jesus set for us. Throughout the gospels we read about Jesus’ ministry. He healed sick, taught the truth, and prepared the next generation of believers to take on the good news to the ends of the earth. Yet He also removed Himself from the clamor of people and ministry to be alone with His Father.
So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.
Jesus is not calling us to abandon all other things to solely spend time at His feet, listening to what He has to say. He does remind us that serving Him to the exclusion of spending time with Him is not pleasing to Him. Jesus desires a proper balance of both.
Is spending time on a regular, even daily, basis a priority for you? What, if any, adjustments might you need to make to be more inline with how Jesus would have you spend your time?