Read Luke 10:38-42
38-40 As they continued their journey,Jesus came to a village and a woman called Martha welcomed him to her house. She had a sister by the name of Mary who settled down at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was very worried about her elaborate preparations and she burst in,saying,”Lord,don’t you mind that my sister has left me to do everything by myself? Tell her to get up and help me!”
41-42 But the Lord answered her,”Martha,my dear,you are worried and bothered about providing so many things. Only a few things are really needed,perhaps only one. Mary has chosen the best part and you must not tear it away from her!” (JBP)
This very familiar passage is a reminder to us that activity does not always mean achievement. How busy we are isn’t always the best guide to how fruitful we are. It is a particular temptation in Christian work to confuse busyness with productivity and obedience. Jesus reminds Martha that taking time to simply be with him is more important than fussing around distracted by secondary matters,important though these might be.
We often want to be up and about doing all sorts of good and worthwhile things for God and for others. But we need first to get our marching orders from God. We need first to acknowledge and make a priority our personal relationship with God. Otherwise we become overly busy activists who are full of sound and fury but who achieve little.
Being quiet with God,sitting at Jesus’ feet,might not seem productive. And to be sure this is not all we do. We can perhaps speculate that a bit later in this episode Mary did get up and give Martha a hand in the kitchen. Idleness is not being encouraged,merely a right ordering of our priorities.
Only as we stop restlessly doing things will we find out what really needs to be done. We may dare to experiment with a life of doing less in order to accomplish more.