It’s the tale of two sisters. I’m sure you’ve heard it before.

One got caught up in chores.

One got caught up in her Lord. 

*Enter Mary and Martha, stage left*

I want to invite you to turn to Luke 10:38-42 with me, in your personal Bible so you can note what stands out to you in this passage as we study it.

In case you’re on the go, I’m going to share these verses down below. But I highly encourage you to read along with me in a physical Bible.

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 a 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.”

Oh Mary and Martha! Mary sat. Martha served. Why did Jesus say that Mary chose the better option, when it was Martha who was serving Him?

This was a lesson we studied in Journey Kids a few weeks ago (the children’s Wednesday night program at my church). As I read this story to my first and second graders, something stood out to me that I had never noticed before:

Martha was distracted by serving Jesus.

Whenever I heard this story growing up, I always made the association that Mary=good and Martha=bad.

But frankly, Martha wasn’t doing anything wrong in this story. She was serving Jesus. She invited the Savior into her home and wanted Him to have a restful experience, and she became frustrated when her sister didn’t help her.

I relate to Martha. I think I become “distracted with much serving” as well. Serving with Jesus isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be a beautiful act of worship.

However, this becomes a problem when we forget about the One who we are serving and get merely caught up in the action or appearances.

1 Samuel 15:22 says “‘Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams’.”

So here we learn that listening is greater than sacrifice.

Micah 6:6 and 8 tell us “‘With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?’ …He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice and love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” 

So, again, we learn that an actual relationship with God is better than sacrifice.

To repeat: service and sacrifice aren’t bad. In fact, they’re quite good. They just aren’t what’s best.


It comes down to a matter of good vs. best.

What Martha did was good.

What Mary did was best.

Mary took time out of her busy day, stopped what she was doing, and sat at her Savior’s feet to listen to what He had to teach… even when it wasn’t accepted by others.

Mary knew that Jesus- the King of kings- was at her house, and she wasn’t going to waste this opportunity. And according to Jesus, “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” 

Mary’s personal relationship with Jesus wasn’t going to be taken away by anyone or anything- not by distractions of service or for eternity.

It's a matter of good vs best

Now I have a question for you and me:

Will we choose what’s best over what’s good?

Will we choose spending time with our Savior over our day-to-day activities? Over service projects? Over school and/or work?

Will we sit at Jesus’ feet before we stand to face the world?

Will we learn all we can about our Lord when distractions of what-needs-to-be-done scream in our face?

The answer to these questions is easy: “Of course we will!” but the application and living this out is much harder. It’s easy to say one thing but to do another.

Because we have the Holy Spirit living in us, we have the ability to come into Jesus’ presence whenever. An opportunity that Mary and Martha did not have but would probably loved it if they could have hung out with Jesus whenever.

So I want to encourage you: Take time out of your busy day today to sit at your Savior’s feet. Learn about Him. Hear what He has to say. Talk to Him. Abide in Him.

Don’t know where to start? Here are 5 practical ways you can abide in Jesus.

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