Do the One Thing That Is Needful
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.”
Is it practical to be occupied with Jesus? Does it help you? Does it put food on the table? Does it prosper your finances? Does it make your physical body healthy? We know what it did for Peter—he walked on water. Now, let's take a look at what it did for Mary. You can find the story of Mary and her sister, Martha, in Luke 10:38–42.
Mary was seated at Jesus’ feet when the Lord came to visit them. Martha, the elder sister, was busy working in the kitchen, making sure that everything was in order and ensuring that there was enough food and drink for their guest. Who was Martha busy serving? Jesus.
And while Martha was frantically running in and out of the kitchen, what was her younger sister Mary doing? In the midst of all the busyness and activity, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, beholding His beauty, beholding His glory, and hanging on to every word that proceeded from His lips.
While Mary was resting and drawing living water from Jesus, her sister Martha was restless, frantic, and stressed from serving Jesus. One sister was focused on serving, while the other was focused on receiving.
Look what happened after a while. Martha's stress from serving finally led to this outburst of frustration: "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me” (Luke 10:40). In one moment of anger, she blamed two persons: the Lord Jesus as well as her sister Mary.
Now, listen closely to Jesus’ response, and you may just find yourself in the Lord's description of Martha: "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.”
This is an amazing response. In Middle Eastern culture, it was right for Mary to be in the kitchen preparing food and serving her guest. Now, it would have been a shameful thing for Mary to sit at Jesus’ feet and not help Martha if Jesus was just an ordinary guest.
But Jesus was no ordinary guest and Mary knew it. He was God in the flesh and the greatest way you can minister to God when He is in your home is to sit at His feet and keep drawing from Him! That is what delights our Lord.
When you come to Jesus to draw as much as you can from Him, He loves it. That is why Jesus was pleased with Mary. That is why He defended Mary’s action, saying, “One thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part.”
What is the “one thing” that is needful? Is it to busy yourself in serving the Lord? Is it to be troubled about many things?
No, the one thing that is needful is for you to sit at Jesus’ feet and keep your eyes, ears, and heart on Him. One sister saw Jesus in the natural, needing her ministry. The other sister saw Him as God veiled in flesh with a fullness to draw upon.
Which sister do you suppose complimented Jesus and made Him feel like the God that He is? Mary. Martha obviously forgot that this God-Man multiplied loaves and fishes to feed a multitude. He has not come to be fed but to feed!
Unfortunately, sometimes, the hardest thing for us to do is to sit down! Sometimes, the most challenging thing we can do is to cease from our own efforts and rest solely on Jesus’ unmerited favor.
Often, we are like Martha—worried, busy, and troubled about many things. It can all be legitimate things that we are worried about. In Martha’s case, she was trying her best to serve the Lord. She ended up doing many things that day, but missed out on doing the one thing that was actually needful.
Believers who do that one thing that is needful are not worried about anything else. On the other hand, believers who fail to do that one thing end up being troubled about many things. Do you believe that only one thing is needful—to rest at Jesus’ feet and receive from Him?
Now, is it practical to just be occupied with Jesus? Absolutely. We find that later, in the Gospel of John, Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair to prepare Him for His burial (John 12:3–8).
On resurrection morning, some women came with ointment to anoint Jesus’ body, but it was too late then. They were doing the right thing, but at the wrong time. The Lord had already risen.
But Mary did the right thing at the right time. This shows us that when you do the one thing that is needful, you will end up doing the right thing at the right time, and God will cause all that you touch to be amazingly blessed.
Like Mary, choose to focus on the beauty, glory, and love of Jesus. Choose not to be troubled about many things or be constantly occupied with yourself. Like Peter, turn away from the storm and look at Jesus, and you will start walking above the storm.
Beloved, choose to focus on the Lord and rest in His finished work. As Jesus is, so are you in this world!
This devotional is taken from the book 100 Days of Favor—Daily Readings from Unmerited Favor.
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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version ®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.