It is so easy to get distracted from the things that are important, and sometimes we need a wakeup call. Martha was one such person who was distracted by the cares and duties of this life, that she was missing what was truly important.
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who SAT AT THE LORD’S FEET LISTENING TO WHAT HE SAID. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”” Luke 10:38-40 (NIV) -Emphasis Mine
In the King James Version, it says that Martha was “cumbered with much serving.” A closer look at these words, and we will see that there was a problem with Martha that was much deeper than just anxiety about getting dinner on the table.
The word “distracted” or “cumbered” in Greek is the word periespato, which means literally, “to draw from around.” The word “serving” in Greek is the word diakonia, which means attendance, service, ministering or ministry. Its’ root diakonos, is the word used for deacon, minister, or servant.
In other words, Martha’s attention, instead of centering on Jesus, centered on the things of life, working, and serving. Her focus and energy surrounded things other than the Lord. Even how and what she spoke to the Lord reveals her focus was on what was bothering her, and not what was on His heart.
Mary’s focus and attention on the other hand was centered on Him. Hearing His voice and listening to His words was her joy and desire. Her focus surrounded HIM, which caused her to be still, meditate, and receive spiritual impartation. She didn’t even speak, she just sat in a place of humility hearing and receiving His Word. This was the Lord’s response to the two sisters:
“”Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only ONE THING IS NEEDED. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”” Luke 10:41-42 (NIV) -Emphasis Mine
The Lord endorsed and defended Mary’s choice, while He gently rebuked Martha’s choices. Mary in turn received MORE from the Lord. No doubt she had a greater revelation of Jesus, and knew Him better than her sister.
I’m sure we can all identify in one way or another with these two sisters. Indeed, we have the same choices to make that they did. Is our focus and attention on the things of church, ministry, and/or responsibilities? Or is our attention centered on Him?
Spending time with Him is the single greatest use of our time. To truly KNOW HIM must be our highest goal and desire. If it isn’t, we have gotten off track. This was the Apostle Paul’s highest priority. He said, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil. 3:8)
The Lord desires greatly fellowship with His people, His Beloved. There is so much that He wants to show us, so much that He wants to impart, but this only takes place as we spend time with Him. This ONE THING is what brings about all that we have desired of Him, and He of us.
The Lord said it in another way when He was asked what is the greatest commandment.
“Jesus replied: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matt 22:37-38 (NIV)
In the Scriptures, there are two distinct words in Greek. One is phileo and means, to have ardent affection and feeling. It is a friendly or brotherly love. It is an impulsive love that can come and go. It is the natural human affection, and strong feeling, or sentiment. The other word for love is agapao. The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia says agapao, “is the highest and most perfect kind of love, implying a clear determination of will and judgment, and belonging particularly to the sphere of Divine revelation.” This is the God kind of love. It is unconditional and unselfish.
When we love God with the phileo kind of love, the feeling of affection can change according to our perception of our circumstances. When we love God in this way, it is based on what He is doing or not doing (or what we think He is doing or not doing), instead of on Who He is. In other words, self is still in the equation, and many times the center of our focus.
When Martha came to the Lord, her concerns were based on self. With Mary we see a person whose world centered around Jesus. Her love for Him was based on Who He was (and IS). The Lord comes to the defense of those who love Him in this way.