John 15:4, John 10:38-42, Romans 10:17, John 4:13-14, John 7:37-38, Proverbs 3:6, Matthew 11:28
Abide: to remain, continue, obey, follow, stick to, stand by, uphold. In today’s society, these are not words and phrases we hear very often. Living in a time when “have it your way” is the easiest and most popular phrase, how do we choose to abide, or remain, in Christ as He commands us to do (John 15:4)? When every day is over stuffed with to-do’s and to-don’ts and with good things like jobs, family, friends, and service activities, how can we spare the time and mental capacity it takes to “abide, obey, follow, uphold, stick to, and stand by?”
Honestly, I do not think times have changed too much in this aspect since Mary and Martha. There have always been more to do than hours in the day. The story of Mary and Martha was given to us as a gift, as a reminder, of how we should go about our day serving, loving, but most of all… ABIDING.
Luke 10:38-42 reads,
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.”
There is ONE thing that is necessary, abiding at the feet of Jesus. Martha was so consumed by her to-do list that she forgot that she was in the presence of The Lord. SHE FORGOT. SHE WAS DISTRACTED. By what? Good things, but not the best Thing! She was so busy preparing food for her guests that she forgot that the Bread of Life was sitting in her living room (John 6:35). She was so busy re-filling her guests’ water glasses that she was unaware that the Source of Living Water sat mere feet away from her (John 4:13-14, 7:37-38).
We read this story and think, “How could she have forgotten?! How could she pass up an opportunity like that?! How could she let chores distract her from Jesus?!” Yet, don’t we do that every day? Pass up opportunities to sit at the feet of Jesus, to stand by Him, and to obey him all because of the numerous things that have to get done “right now”?
“One thing is necessary (v. 42).”
So how do we choose to remain at the feet of Jesus when obligations begin consuming our thoughts and our list of chores begins to cause us burden and anxiety? Let’s take it from Mary.
First, she sat. She intentionally chose to stop what she was doing, to put aside her chores, and to exist in the presence of Christ. She chose to believe in God’s promise in Exodus 33:14 when God said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” As long as she was in the presence of God, she had rest. She sat at His feet in order to fill up with His love and wisdom so that she could later serve Him more effectively.
Then, she humbled herself by sitting at the feet of Jesus. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” Mary humbled herself, and Jesus exalted her and commended her for it by proclaiming, “Mary has chosen the good portion” (v. 42). Sitting at the feet of Jesus was not only a position of humility, it was also a position of learning. It was common for students to sit at the feet of their Rabbi or teacher. Mary’s very position was one of a desire to learn from Jesus.
Lastly, she listened. She did not tell Him her opinion. She did not tell him what she had heard on the radio. She listened. She allowed her swirling thoughts to find peace in the presence of Christ as she chose to take the time to hear, absorb, and take to heart what Jesus was saying to her. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.” Mary was able to listen to the very words of Christ coming from His mouth, and we have that same exact opportunity every time we open up the Bible. How great our faith would increase with increased time in listening to His Word!
Mary chose the ONE good Thing, the Thing that will never be taken away from her. All that we have in this life is fleeting-- our health, kids, spouse, jobs, cars, homes. And are those not the things that take up the majority of our time and thought life? But, Jesus is the One and Only Good Thing that will never be taken away. Proverbs 3:6 says, “In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” We have to make the decision daily to put God first, to sit at His feet, to listen to His Word, and to abide in His loving presence.
Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Turn your thoughts, your time, your desires, and your affections to God first, and He will give your rest.