In the story we’ll read in the Bible today, Jesus is visiting some friends, two sisters in fact, and challenges one sister on her use of time.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 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.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 ESV)
This can be a frustrating story. We can relate to Martha! Think back to Christmas dinner, did you have a lot to get ready, and did some family member frustrate you by doing nothing? That sounds like what happens here.
Jesus might have gone a different direction here, right? He might have told Mary to be more sensitive to Martha’s needs, and go help. Or, he might have gone to help her himself. Both would be consistent with Jesus’ teaching and character.
But what he says is “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.”
It comes down to the goal, the plan. One thing is necessary, and it’s not what Martha is doing. Two possibilities:
One option: Martha is concerned with gender roles. In their culture, Mary should be in the kitchen serving, not learning like a rabbinical student. She’s assumed the posture of a learner, sitting at Jesus’ feet, which was an exclusively male pursuit.
Another option: Martha really is just concerned with a meal to honour the visiting rabbi, but Jesus says at this particular moment, there is a more important goal that should consume her time.
Either way, seems she’s missed the goal. Jesus is here. He’s establishing his kingdom, starting with teaching a few individuals, his disciples. Martha and Mary are invited to be a part of that select group of learners while he’s in their own home. Mary is sacrificing her place in society, and her time, to sit at his feet, learn and grow as his follower. Martha is letting those same things get in the way.
The creator of time itself is sitting in Martha’s living room, and she doesn’t give him any.
He is the only one who can create time. I act that way sometimes. I leave no travel time between appointments, as if I’ll conjure time out of nowhere.
But, we only have so many hours in the day – time is a finite resource. We have to choose how to spend them. Sometimes it’s on life’s mundane tasks, preparing another meal or cleaning up, and sometimes it’s on great visionary stuff like sitting at Jesus’ feet.
One Christian, Martin Luther, said years ago: “Oh, faith is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, so that it is impossible for it not to be constantly doing what is good.“
The question is – what is good?
Question: What makes for a “good” use of time?Read the Bible in Sync Today