Ike Ozuome


It is easy for us Christians to lose sight of the Lord Jesus in the midst of all our activity for Him. This story in Luke 10:38-42 clearly shows the importance of setting priorities and not being distracted. It shows the necessity of balancing our Christian service with worship—that is, our work with our worship. It also shows that listening to the Word of the Lord is of great importance. Here we see two personalities, represented by Martha and Mary.

The Bible tells us that Mary and Martha were sisters who both loved Jesus. One day Jesus visited their home and they were both serving Him. But Martha thought Mary’s style of serving was inferior to hers she was irritated that Mary was not helping and so she complained to Jesus. What she didn’t realize was that in her desire to serve, she was actually neglecting Jesus, her guest. In fact, “she made the common mistake of offering work for worship.” She was distracted by the amount of serving she had to do by trying to please the Lord.

While it is not a bad thing and certainly not a sin to try to please Jesus (because we are advised in the Scriptures to walk in a manner or to live in a way that pleases the Lord—see Colossians 1:10-12 and 1 Thessalonians 4:1), the problem here is that Jesus wanted the attention of Martha, but instead she offered Him a flurry of activity. As a result, she felt tired and overworked and became agitated or confused and complained of Mary not helping her. The Lord tenderly responded by pointing out to her that she was worried and troubled about many things—over ordinary matters. But that one thing is needed from both of them, and her sister Mary had chosen that good part which will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:38-42).

Obviously, the Lord Jesus in this passage did not blame Martha for being concerned about the household task or job He was simply asking her to set priorities and not be distracted. As one commentator notes, “It is possible for service to Christ to degenerate into mere busywork that is totally devoid of devotion to God.” As Christians, we must make sure we are not so busy day after day doing things for Jesus and not spending any or much time with Him—learning at His feet as Mary did. We must not let our service become self-serving like Martha’s.

The lesson in this passage is quite obvious! Like Martha, we can become weary in our work for the Lord when we fail to take time to sit at His feet and draw from the spiritual resources that are available to us. Honestly, there are a few things that are as damaging to the Christian life as trying to work for Christ without taking time to commune with Him.

Apostle Paul in his letter to young Timothy writes, “Hardworking farmers are the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor” (2 Timothy 2:6). In other words, we can’t effectively feed others until we ourselves have been fed. Obviously, this story of Mary and Martha shows that what we do with the Lord Jesus Christ is far more important than what we do for Him. It also shows that those who strike a balance between work and worship will keep themselves from spiritual burnout and will become more effective in their service to the Lord.

While Martha was distracted by the amount of serving she had to do, her sister Mary did what was right by devoting herself to Jesus’ teaching. Even when Martha complained, Mary was silent and said nothing in response. What a good example for us to follow!

We must remember that “All these things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at a time when this age is drawing to a close. They were also written down for our learning, in order that we might have hope through the patience and encouragement which the Scriptures give us” (Romans 15:4; see also 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11).

Listening to the Word of the Lord and doing what it says is of great importance.


Ike Ozuome

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God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, nor sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.