All of us know the context of these familiar words of Jesus: “And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her’ ” (Luke 10:41-42, NKJV).
We tend to get on Martha’s case about this, her being distracted and such. But the majority of us manage to get into the same boat.
Martha’s heart was not to be distracted from the Lord. In fact, the verse that opens this passage states that she “welcomed Him into her house” (v. 38). She invited Him. She wanted fellowship. She was not at all intending to ignore the Lord. She wanted to serve Him.
Serving the Lord is a good thing, yet it was in Martha’s serving that she was distracted. What was she distracted from? True fellowship with Jesus. She had become “worried and troubled about many things.” Serving the Lord without having fellowship with Him does not lead to peace.
Notice what she said to Jesus: “ ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me’ ” (v. 40). In other words, she was so busy serving the Lord that she assumed the answer to her concerns was more help to continue working.
More often than not, when we get overwhelmed, busy, stressed and under pressure, our immediate assumption—because it is all for “serving the Lord”—is “Lord, we need more help!” But Jesus very clearly told Martha that “one thing is needed,” and it was not more help to continue doing what she was doing. The one thing she needed was sitting at the feet of Jesus (i.e., fellowship) and hearing a word directly from Him.
Many times we get so busy doing things for the Lord that we don’t receive things from the Lord. Many times we get so busy serving the Lord that we forget to spend time hearing the Lord.
Serving the Lord is a good thing, but without spending quality time with Him and hearing His word, our perpetual state of serving may end up leading us toward worry, trouble and eventually burnout. Whenever we are overwhelmed or under pressure while serving the Lord, we need to sit at the feet of Jesus and receive something from Him.
Only one thing is needed!
By: Tristan Fenholt, youth pastor at The Rock (Anaheim Foursquare Church) in Anaheim, Calif.