When Jesus visits the home of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42, an interesting exchange occurs. Martha does what she is expected to do, she busies herself with the tasks of hospitality. Mary, on the other hand, sits listening at the feet of Jesus. This walks all over Martha, who thinks Mary is neglecting her duties and forgetting her purpose and place.
To say one sits at the feet of another in the ancient world was not really a description of location, nor was it a description of admiration like we might use it today. For Mary to sit at the feet of the Jesus, the master, was for Mary to put herself in the place of the disciple. The disciple is an imitator, an apprentice, learning not just for learning’s sake, but learning to do what the master is doing, to live, to share, to proclaim the lessons of the master. Martha asks Jesus to get Mary back to work with preparations. Jesus tells Martha that Mary, in fact, has chosen the right place with the right priority.
That is always our challenge in life. It’s not that all that Martha was doing was unimportant. Martha’s service was good. But we have to discern that which is most important at any given time. That which is best must take priority over that which is good.
Just like Martha found, it is so easy for us to be distracted by many things, even good things. The word used for distracted literally means “dragged all around,” “pulled in different directions.” That sounds familiar to me. How about you? I’m guessing that most of the time when our discipleship dips, it’s not because our lives are depraved. It’s because our focus is distracted. But there is one thing that rises above it all and should work it’s way through it all. Seek first the kingdom. Keep the main thing the main thing in all things.