Sermons & Sunday Schools

One Thing Is Necessary

In this special Mother’s Day sermon, Pastor Dave Capoccia examines the short account about Mary, Martha, and Jesus in Luke 10:38-42. Christ teaches in this passage a simple but critical truth about following him: devoted discipleship comes before happy service. As Pastor Dave preaches through the text, he identifies three highlighted characters who underscore the passage’s main message.

1. The Devoted Disciple (vv. 38-39)
2. The Unhappy Servant (v. 40)
3. The Compassionate Teacher (vv. 41-42)

Full Transcript:

Happy Mother’s Day! We are pausing today in our regular Ecclesiastes and 2 Peter preaching to bring you a special mother’s day message. But of course there will be spiritual food for all of us today, mother or not.

Our text is short but important for each of us to hear and take to heart. We’re going to read the text and then I will pray and proceed through the sermon. Please turn in your Bibles to Luke 10:38-42:

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Let’s pray. Lord open Your Word to us this day and teach us Lord Christ. May I be Your mouth piece so that I can explain clearly Your Word. Spirit work in the hearts so that we are transformed. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Even though it is Mother’s Day, I’m going to risk opening this sermon from a traditionally masculine field: sports. One of the greatest American football coaches ever was Vince Lombardi who coached the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s, and also a coach briefly for the Redskins. He led his teams to winning records every season and to five championship wins in subsequent years, including the first two Super Bowl victories ever.

Even today the trophy given to the winning team at the Super Bowl is named after this coach. What made Vince Lombardi so great and a success? Surprisingly, it is not brilliant strategy or new and unconventional techniques. Rather, it was a commitment to mastering the fundamentals. In just his second season as the Packers coach, Lombardi led his team to victory in the 1960 championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Packers were playing well in the game and were winning going into the fourth quarter, but then they lost in the final few minutes because they just couldn’t score even though they were a few yards away from the end zone. It was a demoralizing defeat! To be so close but still to fail. What went wrong? How would the team pick up the pieces again for the next year?

When summer training camp came around, Coach Lombardi’s idea was to get back to basics. He decided to make no assumptions about what the players knew or remembered from the previous year and he famously began the trading camp with these words after holding up a certain object: “Gentlemen, this is a football.” Lombardi trained his team with this mindset. He went over with each player how to block, how to tackle, etc. He went back to page one in the playbook to make sure each player knew they were supposed to do in the plays the team would execute.

Some of the players initially found this approach amusing but as the training camp proceeded, the team began to excel more and more in all of the little skills that other teams around the league took for granted. The reorientation paid off for in the 1961 season, not only did the Packers make it to the championship game again, but this time they won it: 37-0.

Now I bring up Vince Lombardi this morning because this back to basics mindset is very important for us as Christians. After all, we also face many difficulties and frustrations and even defeats in the Christian life. We sometimes ask ourselves: why we always feel so stressed, angry, and worried, even when we try to serve God? Why do we seem to keep yielding to the same sins again and again and why does our love and zeal for the Lord feel so cold? Is there some secret or new teaching or technique to add to our lives to find a breakthrough?

The answer is there is no secret except to go back to basics. Remember what it means to be a Christian and sit at the Lord’s feet. Love to learn from Him. That’s what today’s text is all about: recapturing the one thing that is necessary in the Christian life. The sermon title is One Thing is Necessary. As we look at the short text, we can state the main idea in this way: God teaches us that devoted discipleship comes before happy service.

Do you want to happily save Christ? You must get back to basics. Discipleship under Christ is what enables happy service for Christ. Just a word about the context, in Luke 10 Jesus is proceeding towards Jerusalem and His mind set on the cross. He is still taking the time to teach His disciples and we see the connection between loving God and serving God. In the beginning of the chapter, Jesus sends 70 of His disciples out on a mission. They come back excited about what they have accomplished. They say that even the demons are subject to them in His Name. Jesus tells them not to rejoice in this, their accomplished service. Rejoice that their names are written in Heaven.

Then there is an exchange with Jesus and a self-righteous man of the law. The man asks Him what the most important commands in the law are. Jesus directs him back to the Scriptures and the man admits that the most important is to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. The man asked who the deserving neighbor was and Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. He was asking the wrong question about who deserves our loving service. What God calls us to do is to be good neighbors to anyone in need because He loves us.

This theme of service to Christ comes after and only through love for Christ. You’re going to see that evident in our passage. For this narrative, we’re going to organize it under three headings, which each focus on particular characters highlighted in the plot. We see our first one from verses 38-39. The first highlighted character is the devoted disciple. Let’s look at these verses again in Luke 10:38-39:

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.

We learn that Jesus and His disciples have entered another village. Our author, Luke, doesn’t name the village but it’s probably Bethany, just east of Jerusalem. I say this because the information the Apostle John gives us in John 11 mentions that Bethany is where Martha, Mary, and Lazarus live. Jesus was a friend of this family and loved the three of them and ministered to each of them personally.

In turn, they loved the Lord and believed in Him and His Word and they were happy to offer Him a place to stay, who relied on this kind of hospitality. Because of His various trips to Jerusalem, He often stayed in this nearby town of Bethany. He often got to see His friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. This is probably not the first or last time in this particular passage. He comes to visit as He ministers in this city.

It says that Martha welcomes Jesus into His home. This was a righteous act and hospitality was particularly important at this time. Why does it say that Martha and not Lazarus did the welcoming? We can’t say for sure but probably it was because she was the oldest of the three siblings and she took a prominent and motherlike role for the family. She is the one who has the home and opens it up. As Lazarus is not particularly important in this story, he is not mentioned.

The one who really catches our attention is the second character, Mary. She is sitting at the Lord’s feet and listening to His Word. Now you might ask what is so remarkable about this. Not only does sitting at someone’s feet very obviously indicate humility and deference to that person as they are literally seated lower, but this description meant something in this culture. To sit at someone’s feet was understood as to take the position of a disciple, committed learner, or follower of someone else.

In Acts 22:3, Paul is defending himself in front of a bloodthirsty mob in Jerusalem. He mentions that he was educated under Gamaliel, who was a famous rabbi. In the NASB the translation is educated under but a literal translation of that phrase is educated at the feet of Gamaliel. In other words, Paul says that Gamaliel was his master and he was the student. He literally sat at his feet and absorbed everything that his teacher had to say.

The same idea is expressed here in Luke 10 about Mary and Jesus. She voluntarily takes up a position as a humble learner of a great teacher and the Lord. It’s not the name Jesus used here but the Lord. Mary has come to the same realization about Jesus as other disciples. She would not doubt say as Peter said in Matthew 16:16 that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God. She would also echo the words of John 6:68:

You have the words of eternal life.

She understands who Jesus and the value of His words so she wants to be His follower. She seats and orients herself to pay close attention as it says in Luke 4:22:

And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips.

Mary takes up the posture of a devoted disciple which she ought because of who Jesus is and which we ought to do as well. But perhaps more remarkable than the fact that Mary takes up this posture is that Jesus allows her to do so. He not only allows this but welcomes it and insists that no one take Mary away from this position.

Why is this particularly noteworthy? Because many people at the time including some Jewish rabbis had a very low view of women. They saw them as spiritually inferior, deviant, untrustworthy, and incapable. One ancient rabbi proclaimed, “Better to burn the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, than to teach it to a woman.” Not every rabbi felt that way and there were some Jews who had a high and respectful view of women.

Nevertheless for Jesus to so openly welcome a woman disciple and to give her a front row seat to His teaching would have raised more than a fe eyebrows. Actually this fact fits well into Luke’s overall purpose in writing his gospel record. Fundamentally Luke, a gentile, writes this whole book to show that Jesus is the Savior of all mankind, Jew and Gentile, man and woman.

Thus if you go through the gospel you’ll notice that Luke highlights more than other gospel writers the many times that Jesus goes out of His way to minister to gentiles and women. This is a beautiful display of Mary’s regard for the Lord and the Lord’s regard for Mary. She takes up the position of the devoted disciple and Jesus gladly receives her into that position and speaks to her His amazing and life giving Word.

But not is all happy and wonderful in this scene. We soon learn that there is trouble brewing in the kitchen and we arrive at our second heading and our second highlighted character in Luke 10:40, where we see the unhappy servant. The verse says:

But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”

Can you relate to this scene at all? You’re trying to do what’s right in some situation in your life and you’re trying to serve God and others. Maybe you’re trying to do something for your children but as you start to do it you heart starts to murmur. Your grumbling heart manifests into actual words to others. I think we’ve all been where Martha is in this text. That’s helpful because that helps us understand that Martha is not the villain here or the bad woman while Mary’s the good woman. Martha is a good woman and she loves and believes in the Lord.

If you go to John 11, you see this beautiful expression of faith in Christ even when her brother dies. Even here she is the one welcoming Jesus in with righteous hospitality. Even Martha’s desire to serve and prepare a proper meal for Jesus and the others with Him is a good thing. However, even good things can turn bad when they are done with the wrong attitude and with improper priority.

Martha really falls into two traps. The same kinds that we easily fail into. On the one hand, she makes too much of the secondary thing. And on the other hand she makes too little of the primary thing. Notice how it says that Martha was distracted with all her preparations. The word is translated into distracted which is good and literally means to be pulled or dragged away. Martha’s heart is being pulled in various directions as she has many different concerns as to how she can show proper hospitality to Jesus.

Now we aren’t given details in the text as to what if any division of responsibilities Martha and Mary had already decided between themselves. Did Martha say to Mary shortly before Jesus arrived that she will go into the main room to make sure Jesus has all He needs while the other takes care of the meal preparation? We often do that before guests come, right?

Maybe the responses were more spontaneous and Mary exclaimed that Jesus had arrived and she needed to go sit and listen while Martha decided she needed to get busy with much service. We don’t know what the set up was but something we can say is that Martha’s overburdening and being distracted was unnecessary and self-generated. It’s not that serving Jesus and preparing the meal was so difficult that Martha couldn’t do it by herself. It’s that preparing the meal the way that Martha felt was necessary turned out to be too much for her.

She was finding out that it was hard to reach her own self-devised standard of what the proper meal would look like. And again we can sympathize if someone really important showed up at your house after a long day’s journey, would you want to serve up three day old leftovers on paper plates? Or would you rather serve your best meal fresh and on your finest china? And you would clean your house, buy flowers, and arrange the lights in just the right way. That’s what we’d naturally be inclined to do. Again it’s not wrong that Martha wants to prepare something nice for Jesus. But she made a good and non-essential thing into an essential thing.

She felt that if she couldn’t present to Jesus the perfect meal and accomplish hospitality in just the way that she envisioned then all was lost and she was a failure and couldn’t show her face to Jesus again. Martha also forgot that Jesus is much more interested in what He can give us than what any of us can give Him. Remember that section in John 4 when Jesus is asking for a drink from the woman at the well? When she says to Him that He shouldn’t ask her because He is a Jew and she is a Samaritan, Jesus replies in a very poignant way. He says in John 4:10:

If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.

Living water satisfies thirst forever and wells up to eternal life. Jesus is interested in giving us what He has to offer, more than what we can give Him. What was it that Jesus was offering Martha in this scene? What was the thing that He was offering her but she wasn’t willing to receive? She considered it good but not essential, even when it was Jesus Himself, His presence, companionship, and the love of the Son of God. Even the life-giving Word and wisdom of the God was being offered and not received. Is this not a precious, valuable thing? Jesus was willing to give this to Martha, Mary and anyone there who wanted it.

But Martha was too busy and she was communicating to the Lord with her good service and meal preparation is: “Thanks for coming by Jesus, but I don’t have time for You since I am too busy doing all the burdensome service that You require.” Now when you communicate something like that to Christ, I think you can understand that it does not honor Him. But it does often result in unhappy result. You will serve alright, but you won’t be happy and it won’t honor the Lord.

Before we go on, we should pause and ask what do our lives communicate to Jesus? Are we so caught up in good but less essential things that we don’t have time to be disciples by the Lord Himself? Do we see Jesus as the burden? Or rather do we lay aside unnecessary burdens so that we can have Jesus? Well Martha’s agitated mind leads to angry action. Notice in Luke 10:40 how Martha accuses her sister. She says her sister has left her to do all the meal preparation and hospitality alone. How inconsiderate and selfish is that after all she does for her sister? Poor Martha.

Have you ever said something like that in your heart or out loud? You come up with your own vision of what should happen and you have good things that Christ as called you to do. When others don’t help you to the extent that you think they need to, you resent them and complain about them. You might even rebuke them while you pity yourself. Notice that Martha’s accusation is not only against her sister but also against Christ. She says in Luke 10:40:

“Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”

Something implied is here that Jesus can see and hear that Martha is working hard and is asking why Jesus hasn’t intervened. Could it be that He just doesn’t care and love her, especially when Martha is working so hard. Why would Jesus let her be left alone? Martha gives Jesus a chance to redeem Himself and if He really cares about her then He will help achieve her vision. Don’t we do the same thing with God by asking Him to do something we want? We have a great and good vision of what we want to accomplish for God that is just not coming together. We blame others and question God’s love for us. Surely if God cared He wouldn’t have let this happen and would have provided more help. After all it is being done for Him!

This isn’t the only time someone has questioned the Lord’s care. The twelve disciples raised the same complaint against Jesus when they were caught in the dangerous storm at sea, when Jesus exhausted after a day’s ministry slept in the boat. They woke Jesus in Mark 4:38 and said:

Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?

They say, “Look at this storm and difficulty? We have been following You and trying to do what is right but we are in the storm and You haven’t done anything about it. Could it be that You just don’t care?” Our hearts can say the same thing and more to God. Like Martha does here, we say that we will forgive Jesus if He sets everything right immediately. He should do what we think is necessary and what we want Him to do because we know better. Then we’ll believe in His love again and trust Him.

We can already see the contrast in attitudes of these two women. Mary sits to listen to Christ, but Martha stands to tell Christ what to do. Mary regards Christ with reverence but Martha regards Christ with suspicion. Now again Martha’s not evil but her heart has strayed to act in an evil and proud and foolish way. She regarded the lesser things as essential things and the essential things as something unimportant.

How does Jesus respond to Martha? We’ve seen the devoted disciple and the unhappy servant. Now let’s look at the last two verses and the last heading in the passage: “The Compassionate Teacher.” Look at Luke 10:41-42:

But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

This is such an amazingly gentle answer from the Lord. Not only does it demonstrate His love for Martha but for Mary too. Even while Martha is questioning that same love, she gets a loving response. Consider how Jesus might have responded to Martha. After all she interrupted the Great Teacher in the middle of His teaching and she criticized and dishonored Jesus in front of all His disciples. She publicly rebuked her sister when she had done nothing wrong. So how might have justly responded to Martha? He might have said, “How dare you interrupt my life-giving teaching with your petty complaint. You would not only rebuke your righteous sister but also me, your righteous Lord? Martha, is your heart not proud, self-righteous, and full of bitterness? Woman, you need to repent!”

But that is not the way our Savior responds and the way the Good Shepherd speaks to those He loves, and it shouldn’t be our way either. Look at how He begins. He says Martha Martha, which is a sign generally that a rebuke is coming since He is saying her name twice. It’s kind of like when your parents say your first and middle name when they are calling you. “David Andrew!” Hmm, I think I am in trouble!

We can see the same technique used in other places, even from Jesus. Look in Luke 13:34:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!

Or check out what it says in Luke 22:31:

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.

But what’s evident in these examples is not only by saying the name twice that Jesus indicates that He will chide the person, but that He still loves them. There’s a tenderness and a care that is communicated in the repetition of the name in this way. He says, “Martha Martha, I love you and I hear you but I must tell you that you’ve understood this situation all wrong. Notice how Jesus correctly diagnoses Martha’s problem as He tells her that she is worried and bothered about so many things. Or to say it another way, she is unduly concerned and troubled about so many things that are good but ultimately not necessary. She has multiplied concerns for herself according to her own thoughts of what is needful.

It’s not surprising that Martha now feels overwhelmed. He wants her to understand that neither He or Mary overburdened Martha. Really she did this to her self. Jesus then reminds her that only one thing is necessary. In saying this, it’s not that He is saying that a meal is totally unnecessary and to forget the meal completely. Nor is He saying that any service or obedience to Him is unnecessary. You can glance at many other places in the Scriptures that in a certain sense service to Christ is necessary for the Christian.

Obedience to Jesus is the expected result of walking in holiness and in love of others. It is the expected result of becoming a true disciple of Jesus. But, in prioritizing the Christian life one thing must come before and be present in everything else. This priority needs to be so obvious that it is the one and only necessary thing. Jesus clarifies what that necessary thing is in the rest of His statement in Luke 10:42:

For Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

What is the one necessary thing? It is the same as the good portion that Mary chose for herself, namely sitting at the feet of Jesus. It is devoted discipleship and simply knowing, loving, and learning from the Lord! Isn’t this the same prioritized portion that we heard earlier in this service from Psalm 27. That’s David speaking in that psalm and he had the same heart! Psalm 27:4 says:

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord And to meditate in His temple.

That’s my priority! Look at Psalm 27:8:

When You said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You, "Your face, O Lord, I shall seek."

Then also in Psalm 27:11:

Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a level path Because of my foes.

Mary got it and David got it! And we can go to many other Scriptures with the same concepts to be reinforced. I’ll give you a few. Psalm 16:5 says:

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.

You’re my main part and priority! Then it says in John 17:3:

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

And then Jeremiah 15:16 says:

Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.

Brothers and sisters, Christianity is not merely some wise philosophy to follow or is it a set of rules to keep or a service list to do. It is first and foremost a relationship with God, with the Creator, the Holy Lord, the Loving Savior, with Jesus Christ. Martha forgot this one necessary thing. She neglected the relationship for the sake of service. But all the service in the world does not compare to simply knowing and loving Christ. Devoted discipleship under Christ must come before and be central in all the service to Christ.

Jesus was insistent with Martha that Mary’s good portion would not be taken away from her under His watch. Really rather than Mary going to help Martha, Martha ought to have come and sit with Mary at Jesus’ feet. They’d get to the meal later. You know what I find really interesting? This proper priority demonstrated by Mary here to know, love, and learn from Jesus seemed to occur again in another event captured by three of the gospels, not including Luke.

In John 12:1-8, Matthew 26:6-13, and Mark 14:3-9 all record Jesus’ final stay in Bethany right before He is crucified. This time Jesus is not at the home of Mary but of Simon, a former leper. Martha is there serving but not complaining this time. Lazarus and Mary are also there and what Mary does is so significant. Mary comes in with a costly alabaster of nard perfume and breaks it to pour the perfume over Jesus, even on His feet and wipes His feet with her hair. It’s an extraordinary expression of her love, devotion, and worship to Jesus. But what is the reaction of the other people present there? What is the reaction of the other disciples led by Judas Iscariot?

It is to rebuke her. They rebuke her for her incredible financial waste. Why this waste when this perfume could have been sold for more than a year’s wages, more than 300 denarii, and the proceeds given to the poor. Does that situation ring a bell? Isn’t that the exact same thing we see in Luke 10? Mary being rebuked for her worship because she is not engaging in service. Look at all the people we could have served if you had not wasted your perfume like that!

What is Jesus’ response in this later event? Just like his response in the other text. Let’s look at Mark’s version of events in Mark 14:6-7:

But Jesus said, “Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a good deed for Me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.”

I say again, Jesus is not anti-service. There are many good causes in which we Christians can be engaged. We should care about serving our spouses, our parents, our children, our church, and our nation. We should be committed to making disciples and for fighting for sound doctrine. But what must come before and fill all of that service? It must be sitting at the feet of Jesus worshipping and listening to Him! Devoted discipleship comes before happy service.

From these two passages please understand that taking this position will frequently be misunderstood and even maligned by other Christians who will accuse you by neglecting what they think is your necessary service. They will accuse you of being lazy, cowardly, and unloving. If you really loved others, what are you doing here?

But this is the position that Jesus commends in Mary and really commands of us. In fact, Jesus is so pleased with Mary’s devotion as noted in this other passage, that He declares in that same setting that wherever His gospel is preached the story of what she has done will be proclaimed also. Do you want to criticize her? Well Jesus wants to honor her. And the same is true for us.

So let’s ask now how is your relationship with the Lord? How do you even become His devoted disciple? By faith and repentance. You’ve understood that you don’t meet God’s perfect standard and you fall under the just penalty of sin because you’ve been a rebel just like everyone else. You’ve been a proud rebel committed to your way and inherited the wages of sin which is death forever as punishment in hell. But you also understand that God provided a way of rescue in the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. If you take Him as your Lord and Savior, you will not suffer the wrath of God but instead you will inherit life with Christ forever!

Have you become His devote disciple in that way? If you haven’t then you need to because the invitation is open. You don’t know how much time you have. But if you have committed to following Jesus as a devoted disciple, as I think most people in here already have, then do you live like it? Is it your priority to spend time with your Lord, get to know Him, and listen to His Word? Do you have a growing affection for Christ regardless of how well your life circumstances are going? Before you look to feed others with the grace of life, are you feeding yourself on Christ?

Or are you like Martha, distracted? Has something pulled you away from Christ. It could be even millions of unnecessary or good but less necessary things, like getting caught up in your work or raising your kids that you don’t have time for Christ. Has a political or social cause taken over your life and your thoughts and conversation? Of course everybody wants to enlist you today in their causes.

Do you have even a vision for the church or some ministry that you are involved in? Have you committed to that more than actually know God and loving Christ? Now brethren, I know it’s so easy to fall into these things and drift away. That’s why God gave us this passage. He speaks to us today reminding us that His ways are different from our ways. He will always provide what we need in a situation even when we’re committed to good things. He knows what we need and what we need most of all is to just sit at His feet and to love and learn from Christ. He, your Lord, is calling each of you today to come again and sit at His feet to learn from Him, love Him and then go serve.

Now you might be asking but Jesus isn’t here anymore so how can I sit at the Lord’s feet today as a disciple? Here’s where I need to pull something like a Vince Lombardi and just remind you ladies and gentlemen, this is how you sit at the Lord’s feet (*holds up a Bible*). It’s the Word of Christ! It still exists and we have it in the Bible today. Read and study this and talk to one another about this! Sing the truths and pray according to this! This is how you sit at the Lord’s feet.

This is the Word of Christ and it’s how God has chosen to show Himself to us today. You want to meet with God and encounter Him? It’s His Word that’s the way you do so. Now some of you might be hearing this and are saying to yourself that you have to add yet another thing to your day and another thing to check off on your to-do list. No! That is the wrong way to think about it! Don’t approach the Word like it’s another task to check off or an ammunition silo that you can stock up on to win all those theological debates with your brethren. That is not the way to approach the Word because that is not the way to approach Christ.

Approach Christ to get to know Him, love Him, and learn His way. That’s the way we should go to the Scriptures. Read it regularly as a devoted disciple. You don’t have to be a trained scholar to benefit from and enjoy this book. Just be a devoted disciple. Make this your food, because it is necessary for your spiritual growth. It is the food of Christ! Feed more on Christ as He reveals Himself to you in His Word. But some will say that they are so busy and don’t have any time for the Word.

I reply that I know and that we are all busy but is that a good excuse? Is that a good excuse for a disciple to make to his or her master? The truth is that we make ourselves busy. We are the ones who choose to fill up our schedules with the work and play that we deem is necessary for us. When we do this, we are so surprised that there isn’t any time left for God. Jesus tells us that one thing is necessary, so let’s adjust our lives as necessary. Let’s identify, limit, and cut off what is unnecessary or less necessary that is getting in the way of you and Christ.

Get creative. If you want to read the Bible but you’re finding that hard, you can listen to it while you drive or do chores that don’t require a lot of brain power. Let’s help one another in this. If you’re not sure how to read the Bible or where to start, talk with one of the elders or another mature brother or sister in Christ. We are designed to minister to one and help another sit at the feet of Jesus. If you can’t seem to secure time away from your kids to meet with the Lord, ask a family member or friend to help watch them for a little bit.

Now I know that this can be a particular challenge for moms, especially moms of newborns. I understand it’s difficult. But to help those moms and all of us together, let’s make it our ambition to set one another up for spiritual success. I feel like there’s another sports analogy in there somewhere like an alley-oop or the way a quarterback will throw the ball to his receiver. There’s a way you can set up the others in your family and church to be that better disciple of Christ. Husbands, ask your wives how you can help them sit at the Lord’s feet, and wives do the same for your husbands. Children, do the same for your parents and ask how you can be a spiritual blessing to each other. If you’re single or just friends, you can do the same thing. As it says in Hebrews 10:25:

Exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the day drawing near.

It can be hard if you’re all by yourself. Our commitment should be devoted disciples as God, but if we can help one another in this let’s do that. I should also clarify that reading the Bible is not the magic bullet that suddenly slays all your sins. You can regularly read and pray and still live a sinful life. It’s not a formula that you can just input Bible hours or prayer and automatically output holiness. It is a relationship after all.

Nevertheless I will say that I have not known one person leading a spiritually healthy and happy life who is not also regularly reading the Scriptures and praying. Indeed, it is amazing to observe, even as a pastor, the slow but perceptible transformation that often takes place for those who are devoted to feeing on Christ. They regularly read the Bible, pray, fellowship with other believers, listen to the preached Word, all these things that sometimes theologians call the means of grace. These different yet simple things that God has provided to us and called us to do as ways of getting to know Him. You know what happens when people do this? They grow in greater and greater love and joy and peace in Christ.

I’m not saying that we don’t want you to serve, we do! We always need more servants! But we don’t want it to come out from this mere duty mindset, that there’s a burdensome duty you have to do because you’re a Christian. When you’re regularly feeding on the Lord and meeting with Him when you’re that devoted a disciple, you want to serve. Not that there’s no toil but you want to do it as an act of grateful worship to your Lord.

Isn’t that what you want for yourselves? I don’t want to just go through the motions but also sincerely serve the Lord. That’s what we all want so we need to listen to the Lord’s Word today and get back to basics. Happy service to Christ starts with, follows from, and is filled with devoted discipleship under Christ. That’s the truth so let’s commit to being what we are: devoted disciples to our Lord.

Pray with me. My Lord, Jesus, thank You for Your Word. Just as You were so patient with Martha, You are so patient with us. Lord, we question Your care and we get dragged away by a whole bunch of things some of which are good and some of which are totally useless. We neglect the most important thing and yet You are patient and even today graciously calling us back via this Word that You’ve given to us to sit at Your feet. God, if there’s any who have never done that fundamentally and have just played games with You or lived their own way, I pray they would repent and come to know You today as their Lord and Master.

For the rest of us that can so easily stray, bring us back to the fundamentals, the one thing necessary which is to know You, learn more about You, love You. God we know that we will be the ones who get the joy out of it. The source of all joy and life is You. When we spend time with You, how could we not be blessed? Lord, help us to make the adjustments necessary for this even if they are painful and costly because only one thing is necessary. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.