The One Necessary Resolution

It’s January 13th, and many Americans are 13 days into their New Year’s resolutions. A Nielson survey showed that “staying fit and healthy” and “losing weight” were the top two resolutions made. No surprise, of course, because those often seem to top our thinking when it comes to making a change for the better. But check out this passage in Luke about what should top our thinking:

“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 [italics mine].”’ (Luke 10:39-42)

Martha gets a little rebuke from Jesus here because she was serving him. Jesus was in her home and I’m sure she couldn’t stop thinking of everything she needed to do: make sure Jesus was comfortable, that he had a meal and a hot drink, that she needed to put her house in order, because after all, this company was the best company they had ever had!  

This is a passage that I frequently come back to multiple times a year because my soul so badly needs to hear this. With a to-do list never complete and what feels like constant distraction, I can relate to Martha in so many ways. I want to “do” rather than “be.”

But Jesus says that only one thing is necessary: to sit and listen to his teaching, God’s word. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, putting herself on the floor in a posture of humility, eager to listen to and learn from Jesus. She’s a willing student, and she relinquishes her self-sufficiency and independence to stop what she is doing. Even at a time when there was surely much to do, Mary chose what was better. We sit because we need God’s grace – we don’t sit because we need to earn his approval, we sit because we need to be reminded that what we do and how we serve don’t ultimately matter.

Notice another thing about this passage: In the last sentence, Mary is able to do what is necessary because she chooses to do so. Verse 42 says, “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” If I could only choose one goal for myself for the new year (and each day and month of this new year), I want it to be what is most necessary for my soul: to sit at Jesus’ feet in his word with a humble heart.

One thing to remember: any desire we have to meet with God – even if we often fail to make sure it happens – is the Holy Spirit’s gracious work in us. Ask God to continue to increase it.

Next week we’ll look at the “how” of making it happen – after all, if meeting with God is something so important, maybe it’s best to have a plan.

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