38 While Jesus and his disciples were traveling, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his message. 40 By contrast, Martha was preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal. So Martha came to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to prepare the table all by myself? Tell her to help me.”
41 The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. 42 One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”
In the New Testament, to “sit at someone’s feet” meant becoming that person’s disciple. (In Acts 22:3, the apostle Paul described his student days with the literal Greek phrase “at the feet of Gamaliel.”) In this story, “Martha did what the culture valued in women: cleaned the house and cooked the food. Mary did what the culture valued in men: became a disciple.”* Jesus put no gender or other limits on who he wished to teach. He wanted all his followers to grow spiritually.
Listen. In our conversations, we can at times find it difficult to listen without interruption, but being attentive to the person in our presence can help us to hear something new. Sit with someone whose faith you admire and ask them how Scripture has shaped their life. In your journal, write out what you learned.
O Lord, I have a lot to do. It’s hard to stop all my doing to listen to you. Help me recognize how important that is to my growth as your follower. Amen.
* John Ortberg, Who Is This Man? The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012, pp. 54.
There have been a couple of times over the past decade that I've taken an online test that helps identify personal strengths. While over the years my top five strengths have changed slightly, both times I've taken this test one of my primary strengths has been that I'm a "learner." That was really not a surprise. I've always loved reading and most of what I read is non-fiction. I loved taking all the Disciple classes and the knowledge and understanding I gained from those classes still grounds and informs my faith.
But as much as I love in depth Bible studies and learning about my faith, if you told me Jesus was coming to my house tomorrow I'd be worrying about what I would feed him and whether there was cat hair on the sofa. Because as much as I know the importance of reading and hearing the word of God, I am a do-er and pretty much always feel like there is something I need to attend to. I would blame it on our current culture that tells us we are judged and valued by what we achieve, but here is Martha 2,000 years ago fluffing the pillows and making teacakes for Jesus rather than taking time to sit down with him to really listen and learn.
Martha thought she was attending to the chores that really mattered, but Jesus gently reminded her that what really matters is taking the time to hear the word of God. I try to read a devotional and journal every morning, but I tend to put reading Scripture off until later in the day and then sometimes it doesn't get done at all. Today's Scripture reminds me that, while reading about God and learning how others interpret and apply Scripture is important, it is no substitute for reading God's word directly, allowing it to shape me in my faith and daily walk.
During this season of Lent, as I remember what is really important, I am seeking to carve out time every morning to focus on and read Scripture. For me, only by including this in my morning schedule can I ensure it will get done. Otherwise, as the day gets underway I tend to get swept along in whatever needs to be done and don't often find another block of quiet time. I don't want my tendency to be busy to interfere with the very thing my soul needs to grow spiritually.
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