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One Thing


Photo Credit: Mourad Saadi

(By Rachel Joyce)


The Christmas season can be exhausting. Presents to buy. Cards to sign and mail. Holiday treats to bake. Decorating to complete.


Sometimes we can become overwhelmed.


In Luke chapter 10, Jesus teaches us the importance of one thing — treasuring His presence above all.


Martha had welcomed Jesus into her home. She was preparing an elaborate meal, but it irked her to see her sister, Mary, sitting (like a disciple) at Jesus’ feet. Mary had zeroed in on Jesus. He was all she could see. 


But Martha? Martha was “distracted with much serving,” so much so that she lost her sense of perspective. When she saw her sister sitting with Jesus, learning and delighting in His presence, she marched up to Rabbi Jesus and scolded Him for letting Mary just sit there when there was work to be done.


She questioned, “‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (Luke 10:40).


Not only did Martha admonish Mary and question the Savior’s love, but in her stress, she also corrected the Messiah. “Tell her then to help me.” But the gentle Jesus responded to her querulous demand, “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” (Luke 10:41-42).


“Martha, Martha.” The Master lovingly spoke her name. He knew her strengths and her flaws, yet neither impacted His love for her and His acceptance of her. He loved her because He loved her. He understood her love for Him which undergirded all her service, but He also saw her stressed and frantic heart. 


He knew she was pulled apart by anxieties. The details of the evening had distracted her from what was paramount. “You are anxious and troubled about many things.” In the original text, the word anxious, merimnaō, means to be troubled with cares (Thayer’s Greek Definitions). It includes the idea of being distracted by cares and concerns. It’s linked to the verb merino which means to be drawn in different directions (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). 


Have you ever been there? So burdened by concerns that you felt pulled in a million directions? Finding it hard to focus, to keep going? When we’re in that state, it’s easy to get so sidetracked by the small things that we miss what’s most important. 


Martha did. She was so stressed out about the details of the evening that her heart was troubled. The word troubled in the original text is turbazō. It means to make turbid, to disturb. Picture a churning sea, littered with debris, whipped by hurricane winds into a seething frenzy of foam and fragments. 


Far too often, my heart is like Martha’s. Busy. Distracted. Stressed. 


“One thing is needful.” 


Our hearts need Jesus…every day. In a world that is filled with stress and turmoil, we need to rest at His feet and hear His life-giving words, to experience the joy of His nearness, to feel His love and know that we will be ok — we are His and He is ours. 


As we rest in that place of nearness, our hearts cease their frantic racing and begin to beat in sync with His. Our hearts beat to the rhythm of the Divine.


“Mary has chosen the good portion.” She chose Him. 


And we can, too. As His children, we have the privilege of nearness with Him. He bids us give Him all our cares. He doesn’t want them distracting us from the one thing that is needful, Himself. 


He is the source of all our joy, peace, and hope; He is our greatest treasure.


This devotional can be read in a devotional ebook compiled by Rachael Adams. Click here to download the full book: Beholding Advent.