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.”
An important part of our fulfilling God’s will in our lives will be work. He will have great things for us to do, things that we never would have dreamt possible. He will call us to exercise courage and power that we could not fashion on our own. He will give us abilities that defy reason, clearly testifying that it is God who is doing the work through us. But we must remember that following God is not merely a series of jobs that we complete for him. We are called into a relationship with our Lord, which means that we must spend quality time with him. It is no different than the quality time we spend with our natural loved ones, not doing for them but simply being with them.
In this passage, Jesus points out to Martha that “one thing is necessary.” This is after recognizing that she was preoccupied with getting things done, and this was troubling her. It actually made her anxious thinking of the work that had to be completed if she were to receive Jesus into her home. She was being a good hostess, no doubt, but that was not what Jesus considered necessary. The necessary thing was not cleaning up the place or preparing food and serving it; the necessary thing was spending time in fellowship with Jesus. This was the better way to welcome him. One sister welcomed Jesus into her home by feeding him, the other welcomed Jesus into her heart and her mind by listening to his teaching.
While it is a good thing for us to make room in our lives for the work that God calls us to complete, we also must make room for intimate time with God that serves the purpose of building our relationship with him. Our goal is to know him, and we cannot get there by simply doing work. We only get there by fellowship. God will grant us the discernment to know when it is time to still our hands and simply rest in fellowship with him. Father, remind us that the foundation of our relationship with You is not work but love, and teach us daily to seek the times when we can quietly rest in your presence and listen to what You desire to teach us.