is the word.

Luke 10:38–42 (NKJV)

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

At first glance Martha seems right. But notice Luke’s interesting choice of words.

But Martha was distracted with much serving.

Distracted? From what? She was concentrating on the task she and Mary were responsible for. Isn’t Mary the one who’s distracted? And what one thing is needed anyway?

Note that this is all happening just after Jesus had fed five thousand in Luke 9. Martha worrying about serving food is almost insulting.

Meanwhile, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. Jesus was teaching. That’s why He’s there. That’s why He’s anywhere. That’s what one thing is needed. That’s what Martha was distracted from.

Martha needs to stop being worried and troubled about many things. Mary will help her if needed and in due time, but right now she’s attending to the Lord. Dinner can wait a few minutes for Jesus to finish His lesson. He, not Martha, is in control. Mary has the kingdom perspective. Martha needs to learn it.

So do we.

But this sounds like a call to irresponsibility. When is it OK to ignore a responsibility?

Never. Distracted is the word. We live in a world of spam. It’s designed to make us worried and troubled about many things. We’re not called to ignore things; we’re called to not be distracted by them.

Mary wasn’t ignoring the household tasks; she had made the choice to put them off. Meanwhile, she wasn’t playing solitaire; she was listening to Jesus teach. She had made a perfectly reasonable choice.

The difference between Mary’s kingdom perspective and Martha’s worldly one was that Mary didn’t lose sight of what’s important. Martha let worldly tasks distract her, and Jesus called her out on it.

The kingdom doesn’t call us to be irresponsible. Even deadlines are born of choices we made. You can set yourself up for distraction by accepting a responsibility you aren’t ready for—even a job in the church.

Kingdom thinking is thinking ahead. Don’t over-commit.

All the weekly study guides, which include all five devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.