Hand to the Plow

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.

But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’’But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’’

Both sisters dearly loved Jesus. Imagine how they scurried about their home to get things ready for His arrival. This wasn’t just any generic visitor; both Mary and Martha recognized Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah of Israel and the very Son of God.

Physical Training - Mentoring LeadersBefore they knew it, there He was, coming up the walk, stepping through the door, opening His arms to embrace them. At that point, Mary dropped all her activities and preparations, set her stack of dishes on the counter, and took a seat at Jesus’feet, as close as she could get. Household tasks could wait. Dinner could wait. She had eyes only for Him. She had ears only to catch His every word. Martha, however, saw the job as unfinished, so she kept up her busyness at a fever pitch. She was a veritable whirlwind of multitasking—clattering pots, stirring gravy, baking bread. Her agitation escalated when she saw her idle sister.

How could she possibly get it all done alone? Finally the volcanic frustration erupted. Martha interrupted His teaching with an exasperated, ‘‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

Luke describes Martha as distracted with her preparations, using a word that literally means ‘‘pulled about.’’We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Yanked from one thing to the next to the next, until we begin to feel like a rag doll.

Jesus said to His friend, ‘‘Martha, you’re bothered about so many things. So worried and distracted.’’And then He said something truly revolutionary: ‘‘Only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’’ What Mary had chosen—her decision to cultivate her relationship with Jesus, above all else—would never be taken from her. Not for the rest of her life. Not for eternity. A sacred enclosure. It’s something you choose.


The choices you make regarding the foundations of your life have eternal implications that go far beyond your life span on earth. As Paul told his young pastor-friend Timothy, ‘‘Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.’’

We can all criticize poor Martha for becoming flustered in the kitchen while her sister sat listening in the living room. But how are we any different? We are both Martha and Mary. There will always be demands vying for our time. There will always be brush fires to douse. Yet inside us there will always be a yearning for time to sit at His feet.

Jesus says that when you boil all of life down to the basics—when you think in terms of time and eternity—not much is truly important. In fact, He says only one thing is essential.

Will we choose to spend quiet, reflective time alone with the Lord? Or will we allow life’s pressures to work us into a frazzle? Will we build a sacred enclosure around our roots, or will we allow frenzied foot traffic to erode our spiritual roots and send us crashing to the earth?

Mary made her choice, and so must we. Solomon wrote: ‘‘Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” He too exhorted us to build a sacred enclosure around the headwaters of our life. To take care to protect that inner spring that nourishes and propels virtually everything else we will ever do.

Just how do you do this? I promise you: If you will develop a daily self-feeding program from the Bible and allow yourself to be.Sifted

The above excerpt is from Pastor Wayne’s book, Sifted. Learn more from Pastor Wayne’s heart for hardworking leaders, and how to build a self-feeding Bible program  by ordering the book at Life Resources. 

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