The Believer's Good Portion

Thursday, January 10, 2008

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)

When we sit down to eat (especially in America), we find ourselves at a table with large portions. We can go to a buffet style restaurant and choose from many different salad toppings, entrees, and side items. We can go up as often as we would like, eating much…too much. We can start out well, eating a small salad with a low-fat dressing. Then we get to the main course, and the options begin to weigh on us, and we gorge ourselves. So it is with the Christian life. We can start off well, but then be overcome by the distraction until we are anxious and troubled, losing focus on the chief goal.

Here we see Martha, welcoming Jesus and, by implication, his disciples into her house. There is her good start that day. She prepared for and welcomed for her guests. This is something we must also do. You may have done this today, as well. But we must also set aside the rest of our day. This is where we begin to see Martha’s unraveling. An illustration may help us see Martha’s sin (and our own).

Imagine a woman at the buffet with a few too many sides and entrees. She is desperately trying to eat all of her food. Her stomach is beginning to ache. She is getting bloated. She is contorting her body to try and find room for the food. Sweat is breaking on her forehead. Next to the woman struggling with the food, we see another woman. This other woman is savoring a nice 7 ounce steak with a small salad and a baked potato. She is enjoying her meal, slowly chewing each piece. The food is settling nicely in her stomach, and she is comfortably situated with a smile on her face. Finally, imagine the woman who is eating too much bursting into the kitchen, grabbing the chef, and telling him to make the other woman help her eat some of the food.

The Lord tells Martha that Mary chose a good portion. Martha chose too much. She lost focus of Christ and his instruction. Let the words of our Lord remind us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Mat 6:33). Today, may we sit at Christ’s feet and focus our attention on him. In all that we do, may we seek that one good portion: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1Co 10:31).