The One ThingBy Dan Hammer
July 7, 2020
What would you do if I told you that only one thing was truly necessary to thrive in ministry and your personal walk with Christ? You might be wondering how you missed the “silver bullet” class in seminary. You might think I’m wrong. That’s totally ok, because in reality it’s not me telling you this—it’s Jesus. You don’t have to take my word for it, but I certainly hope you’ll take His word for it.
The story of Jesus’ visit to the home of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 has become as convicting as it is compelling to me this past year. While I’d rather associate myself with Mary in both my personal spiritual walk with the Lord and as a pastor, the truth is my heart is far too often more like Martha’s than I’d like to admit. On the surface, Martha is doing important work. She is offering incredible hospitality to the most important houseguest in history. How much cleaning and preparation do when a houseguest comes to stay at your house? Now magnify how much more work you would be doing if Jesus Christ was coming to your house to sit in your living room and eat your food. It makes total sense that Martha is working so hard to literally serve Christ. Hospitality is biblical and important, so what’s the issue? The issue lies below the surface; it’s Martha’s heart, my heart, and your heart. It’s a priority and a worship issue. It’s forgetting that God wants your heart before He wants your hands. When we get that mixed up, we can easily drift to a heart position where we are worshipping and finding our identity more in what we do for Jesus than in who we are in Jesus.
Martha is serving while Mary is sitting, and that frustrates Martha. Martha is so frustrated she has the audacity to ask Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (Luke 10:40). You might have a worship driftage issue if you challenge God’s care for you and start ordering Him around. However, how often do you and I challenge God’s care for us because we don’t have enough people, programs, finances, buildings or influence? When was the last time your prayers shifted from requesting something of God to demanding something of God?
Jesus responds to Martha in the same way He responds to us so often; with grace-filled truth and a loving re-alignment. “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’” (Luke 10:41-42).
There is a direct positive correlation between our worship driftage and our anxiety. The more we drift from having Jesus at the center of our lives, the more anxiety we experience in our lives. Martha was worried about many things. I’m guessing you can relate to that. I know I can. In ministry there is always more we could worry about. But how often do we allow those many things to choke out Jesus’ one thing. When Jesus says, “One thing is necessary,” He means it. Praise God for this simplicity, clarity, and urgency. May God forgive me, and forgive us, for the times we have been so focused on the many demands of ministry and life that we have neglected the one thing of abiding with Jesus.
Pressures of the modern Christian culture and the fleshly pull of our own hearts often try to drive us off the path of abiding in Christ into the ditch of self-reliance, pride and ultimately devasting idolatry (see John 15). Brothers and sisters, may we not get so caught up in the work of ministry that we forget the who of ministry. Let’s always do the one thing.
Let’s be devoted to Jesus not distracted from Jesus.
There is a difference between being devoted to Jesus and being devoted to working for the church. You can actually be devoted to the church without being devoted to Christ which is a scary thought. The text says that while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, “Martha was distracted with much serving” (Luke 10:40). We need to clarify our true devotion. Our devotion must be first to growing our personal relationship with Christ before it’s growing the church. There will always be more demands and distractions, but it’s always the right decision to sit at the feet of Jesus. Doing for Jesus flows out of being with Jesus, but it should never replace it. Besides, no one has ever been able to pour out of an empty cup. Today, lets repent to God and refresh ourselves in God as we sit at the loving feet of God.
Let’s listen to Jesus not lecture Jesus.
Mary didn’t just sit with Jesus, she listened to His teaching. She had an open heart and mind. Martha lectured Jesus to get on her plan. How many of us as we lead, lead from the position of pride where we are trying to get God to execute our plans instead of humility where we are seeking God to hear His plans and then aligning our plans with His.May we find our satisfaction completely in Jesus and not in the size of our congregations. Today, lets slow down before we speed up. Let’s sit with Jesus with no timetable, no agenda, open hearts, open minds, and open hands. Let’s choose to enjoy Jesus instead of trying to use Jesus. Let’s be confident in the truth that when we choose to sit and abide in Jesus it is the good portion and it won’t be taken away from us. Amidst the many things competing for our time, attention, energy and heart, let’s be sure to do the one necessary thing.