Martha – Busyness versus Stillness
By Steph Nickel
Are you too busy? Steph reminds us of the story of Martha and the contrast between busyness and stillness.
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The Problem of Busyness
Even more so than at other times, what I’m going to share today is a message to myself. Perhaps you’ll be able to relate.
You’re busy—too busy.
You know there are things you should be doing but aren’t.
Instead of reprioritizing your activities and setting some things aside, you simply try to squeeze “just one more thing” into your schedule.
When you realize you’ve taken on too much, you either keep pushing forward, knowing you can’t give anything your best effort, or you toss up your hands, flip on Netflix or YouTube, and convince yourself you’ll get back at it tomorrow.
And when the things you’re neglecting are the things God is undoubtedly calling you to? Well, that is definitely a big problem.
And that’s my problem right now. How about you?
Martha Was Too Busy
Just like us, Martha had to learn there are good things and better things—much better things. Let’s read the familiar story in Luke 10:38-42
This passage says,
“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” (ESV).
Because it’s unlikely than anyone would accuse me of being anxious and troubled about household chores—at least not very often, I’ve never particularly related to Martha. But then I gave it some more thought and realized I am just like her in many ways.
I allow myself to become anxious and troubled about things that don’t really matter.
As I said, it isn’t the housework that distracts me. Sometimes it’s day-to-day busyness, which includes taking on too many projects, buying too many online courses, pursuing far too many things at the same time. I’m physically and mentally tired out before I make any real progress on anything.
What are you anxious and troubled about?
I have negative thoughts about those who have made wiser spiritual decisions.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about Philippians 2:3, which says,
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves”
and James 3:14, which says,
“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth” (ESV).
I don’t want to admit that sometimes the terms “selfish ambition,” “conceit,” and “bitter jealousy” apply to me—but they do.
Can you recognize yourself in these terms as well?
Mary seemed to know what was most important, while the Lord had to spell it out for her sister. At least Martha didn’t seem to understand—at least not at first.
Sadly, I don’t really have the same excuse. I know it’s important to sit at the Lord’s feet (through the study of the Scriptures and prayer), but I don’t do it near as often as I should.
Have you set aside time to regularly sit at Jesus’s feet and learn from Him?
I forget that there is only one thing that is necessary.
While I can’t spend every waking hour studying God’s Word, praying, listening to Christian preachers and teachers, and drinking in the truth of God-honouring music, I can do much better than I have been doing.
I can begin my day by reading the Scriptures and praying. I can commit each day—each task—to Him. I can be honest about how I spend my time—whether filling it with busyness, leisure activities, or good but unnecessary pursuits.
I can and should reprioritize my To Do list. Perhaps God is calling you to do the same.
The Lesson Jesus Taught Martha
Before I conclude this devotional, I want to say that the lesson Jesus taught Martha corresponds to other lessons He has been teaching me of late.
I have not written this devotional to guilt or shame you. I have written these words as a challenge and reminder to myself. If the Lord is challenging you in similar ways, know you’re not alone and that He is not burdening you with these truths for, indeed, Matthew 11:30 is true. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
And I’ve found the more time I spend sitting at His feet, the more I want to stay there.
Just like Martha, may we hear the Lord say, “One thing is necessary.” And may we heed these words and choose “the good portion” as Martha’s sister did.
Steph is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio. Read and hear more from Steph Nickel on the contributor’s page or at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests.
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Images courtesy of:
Busy Woman – FirmBee
Potatoes and Pot: Congerdesign
Resting – Christopher Jolly
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