Signposts: Daily Devotions

Wednesday, January 14

Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.
—Luke 10: 41,42a

This saying of Jesus has become infamous to us overachievers. In the story from Luke’s gospel, Jesus visits Martha and her sister Mary and Martha gets busy, while Mary sits at Jesus’ feet. When Martha complains to Jesus and asks him to tell Mary to help her, Jesus speaks the words from this Scripture passage.   

Unfortunately, Martha has become a caricature of type A people.  “Relax! Settle down!! Don’t be a Martha! Be more like Mary!”  Those admonitions don’t do a bit of good if you are a perfectionist or a workaholic.   

Jesus does not so much admonish Martha as suggest another point of view. There is a time and place for activity and service, and a time and place for contemplation. Balance is the key. Our culture encourages us to be successful, and to achieve on all levels. The better we perform, the more applause and affirmation we get. It is hard to stop and simply be present, even to the Lord. 

Jesus offers Martha perspective. He encourages her to stop and be present. He is not criticizing her but honoring her by offering her a choice that will enrich her life. That choice is available to all of us.  May God give us the grace to look honestly at our lives and the wisdom to make choices about how we live daily.   

Gracious and loving God, give us the courage to change what needs to be changed in order to live a balanced life, a life that celebrates the beauty and wonder in our world, and knows how to enjoy it. Amen.