“You are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is needed.”
– Luke 10:41-42
One afternoon a man looked out the sliding glass door of his patio and saw his dog trotting across the patio with something in his mouth. When the man went outside to investigate, he saw that Fido had a dead rabbit in his mouth. After the man said “Drop it!” about ten times, the dog finally let go. And when the man got a closer look, his heart sank. He recognized the beloved pet bunny that belonged to the little girl next door.
Well, the man felt he had to do something. He couldn’t bear for the little girl to find out that his dog had chomped her bunny to death. So, the man brought the rabbit inside, took it to the sink and carefully rinsed off all the dirt and dog slobber. Then he pulled out the hair dryer—or should that be “hare dryer”?—and got him all dried off. Finally, he climbed the fence into his neighbor’s backyard, put the dead rabbit back into its hutch and fluffed up the bunny’s fur one more time before closing the cage.
Later that evening the man heard the little girl screaming in her backyard. He went next door and asked if everything was all right. The girl’s father told him, “Not really! You remember Cassie’s pet bunny? Well, he died a couple of days ago, and we buried him. But some SICKO came into our backyard while we were gone, dug it up and stuck it back inside the rabbit hutch!”
Have you ever done something kind for someone and afterward realized that it wasn’t at all what that person needed? I have, and I bet you have as well—just like Martha in Luke chapter 10.
In the final five verses of this chapter, Jesus and his disciples came to the home of Mary and Martha. Jesus had been doing full-time ministry for around three years, so he was probably tired—physically, emotionally, perhaps even spiritually. Jesus needed some R&R before moving ahead into
. As best we can tell, the group popped
in unannounced. So, imagine what you might do if 13 men suddenly showed up at your
front door and asked if they could spend the day in your home. The Bible tells
us, “Mary sat at the Lord’s feet
listening to what he said. But Martha was busy with all the things that
had to be done” (Luke 10:39-40). Would you respond more like
Martha, who probably burst into a frenzy of cleaning and meal preparation? Or
would you respond more like Mary—ignoring the state of the house, but anxious
to hear everything that Jesus had to say? Jerusalem
If your reaction would be more like Martha’s, you probably have a task-oriented personality. You are a worker bee with an eye for detail. You don’t just do things; you are determined to do things right. If your reaction would be more like Mary’s, you probably have a people-oriented personality. You work, but when guests come over, you think it’s more important to sit down and spend time with them, rather than serving them. If you’re people-oriented, there’s a good chance that when your guests get hungry, they’ll have to go into the kitchen and fend for themselves. Either that or you’ll make a quick call to Domino’s and have dinner delivered.
Martha loved Jesus. And because she loved him, she ran around frantically trying to clean the house and make him a four-course meal. Her intentions were good. But her priorities were messed up. Jesus didn’t NEED a four-course meal. As Jesus said to Martha in vs. 41-42, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.”
Jesus wasn’t scolding Martha. He wasn’t criticizing Martha. He was lovingly pointing out to her that she was running herself ragged meeting a need that he didn’t even have. Jesus was basically saying, “Sweet Martha, I don’t need a spotless house. Martha, I don’t need a four-course meal. What I most need is just to recharge my batteries and spend some quality time with you and your sister.” If you want to meet someone’s need, first find out what his or her need IS. Although it’s hard to do, we need to push aside our own ideas of how to show kindness to people and take the time to find out what their real needs are. And that determines what shape our kindness will take.
Also, consider these words from
Wiersbe, “What we do WITH Christ is far more important than what we do FOR
Christ. Few things are as damaging to the Christian life as trying to work for
Christ without taking time to commune with Christ.” Often, what is good is the
enemy of what is best. Cleaning the house for Jesus was a good thing. Preparing
a nice four-course meal for Jesus was a good thing. But Jesus made it very
clear to Martha in that spending quality time with him was the best thing. Warren
So, you and I need to ask ourselves an important question: Am I spending so much time doing good things for Jesus that I am neglecting the most important thing: to spend quality time with Jesus?
Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church of Victorville and the author of "Holy Huldah! Lessons You Should Never Forget From Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of." Visit www.YourVictorvilleChurch.com, and join us for our Worship Celebration Sundays at 10 a.m.