A Lesson about Priorities
Priorities. The inescapable lesson of Mary and Martha is priorities. It’s not just found in the “Martha, Martha” part of their story either. From the moment we meet them in the little house in Bethany until we see Mary selflessly pouring the spikenard on Jesus feet and wiping them with her own hair, we are learning about priorities. Mary got it right in Luke 10. Nothing is so important as hearing and obeying the Words of the Savior. Nothing is so important as being at His feet. Nothing is so important as knowing His will for my life.
We must notice that Martha was doing a good thing. Fixing the meal for the Savior was selfless. It was an act of service. But it wasn’t the better thing of the two immediate choices. So many times, that’s my dilemma today. There are just too many good things to do. But the lesson Jesus taught all future generations while Mary sat at his feet is too pointed for us to miss. Nothing of a material nature should become more pressing to me than being at His feet. There are obvious ways that I see folks playing Martha today. Sometimes when I go to speak at a ladies day, fifteen women will leave the auditorium somewhere near the beginning of my last lesson to go to the fellowship hall to prepare for the lunch that follows. These are the Marthas. I once knew a lady who, on a particular Sunday of each month prepared a big meal in her home for the preacher’s family. Each month on this prescribed day, she just stayed home from Bible class to finish preparing the meal. She was a Martha. I know Martha parents who occasionally can be found at ball tournaments rather than the gospel meetings of their local congregations. I know busy Moms who have time to make sure all homework for school is done each evening, but who send their kids to Bible classes without having learned the memory verse and woefully unprepared. They are Martha moms. I know families who make sure all the vacation reservations are made well in advance and they have tickets and maps and confirmation numbers, but yet they arrive at their vacation destinations and then think, “I wonder if there’s a congregation here,” or “Oops! We have these tickets to the big game on Wednesday night!” These are Martha families.
What if God had taken from Martha the distraction that plagued her on the day Jesus was sitting in her living room? I mean, what if she turned around and suddenly there was no food in her kitchen over which to fret? What if God took from us the healthy legs of the children who run the bases at the ballfield during the gospel meeting? Or what if he just took my children from me since so often it’s the kids’ activities that seem to be more important than worship? What if he took their healthy minds that so often require that schoolwork take the place of the study of His Will for their lives? What if he took away the funding that allows us to go on vacations? What if he suddenly just stripped away every good thing so that I might have time for the better thing?
I hope this puts it in perspective for you. When I realize that so often it’s the very blessings of a merciful Father that I use as excuses to neglect Him; it’s the most precious of His gifts that keep me from His house of praise; it’s His bounty that distracts me–then I cannot help but put it all aside and sit at His feet.
Martha was “careful and troubled about many things.” Perhaps she didn’t even take the time to think about just how troubled she was and about just how many things she was troubled. We call it stress. We call it lots of pressure. We know the kind of day. We know it all too well. The next time I find myself struggling to “fit it all in” or frustrated because no one seems to know or care how much I have to do, much less help me to get it done, let me, like Mary make a conscious choice. (Remember, Mary chose the better part.) Let me sit down at His feet, with an open Bible and a heart turned heavenward. Let me thank Him for the material blessings that really are the ingredients of what I call stress. Let me ask Him to help me take these very blessings and dedicate them fully to His glory. Let me pray for wisdom to see the eternal through the material. Let me even pray that He will take from me any distraction that I would allow to get in my way of heaven. (Moms, it’s really hard to let our kids’ activities come before our service to God if we’re praying like this!) Let me truly choose the better part.
Remember, the better part was about to get even better. The one at whose feet she was sitting was soon to rock this little town of Bethany by calling Lazarus out of the tomb. The better part will only get better for us, too. Sit at His feet while you anticipate. He’s still able to open graves. And that’s the best part of all.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series on Mary & Martha. Find the other articles here:
Mary and Martha: Lessons for Your Busy Day
Mary and Martha: Lessons for Your Busy Day, Part Two
Mary and Martha: Lessons for Your Busy Day, Part Three
By Cindy Colley
Cindy is a Christian homemaker, wife, mom and author. The home she “makes” is in Huntsville, AL where she lives with her husband (Glenn Colley), also an author, as well as minister and elder for the West Huntsville church of Christ. Her children, Caleb and Hannah, both collegiate, have published books as well. Cindy has authored five books for Christian women and co-authored several more. Please be sure to visit her blog, Bless Your Heart.