If spending time sitting at our Lord’s feet and listening to His word is so wonderful, then …
Why don’t we sit at Jesus’ feet more often?
There are more reasons, but here are a few that come out of our text:
1. WE’RE TOO BUSY WITH URGENT DEMANDS.
Martha was “distracted with all her preparations.” She was “worried and bothered about so many things.” There were all of the urgent demands of getting the meal prepared: setting the table, baking the bread, roasting the meat, fixing the vegetables, and coordinating everything so that it all got done at the same time. We don’t know if Jesus was alone or if the twelve were with Him, but if they were, it was a big production. Even if they weren’t, there was a lot to do and it was urgent.
Our modern world, with all its time-saving devices, has not eased the problem of time pressure. We all feel it. We all face deadlines, whether it is preparing the evening meal, getting a report done for school, or preparing for some important event at work. Many urgent things are good causes, even necessary. But often they are not important in the sense of really making a difference in our lives over the long haul.
Jesus is saying, “Time spent sitting at My feet and listening to My word is a big rock!” If we aren’t careful, busyness will crowd out that essential time we need with the Lord. Even good things, like serving the Lord, can wrongly crowd out the necessary thing.
2. WE GET DISTRACTED BY WORRIES AND CARES.
This hindrance affects some personality types more than others. If you’re more like Martha than Mary, you’ll need to be on guard against it. Some people are prone to worry and fret over all sorts of things that others never even think about. Martha was probably thinking, “I wonder if Jesus will like the roast lamb? What will He think about the table setting? Have I made enough food? What is His favorite vegetable? And, look at Mary, sitting over there talking theology! Doesn’t she know that there are some practical matters where I need some help?” Mary was the more contemplative, devotional type. I would guess that she had helped out before Jesus arrived. But once He got there, she became engrossed in His teaching and didn’t even think about the many things that were bothering Martha.
I’m convinced that both Martha and Mary loved the Lord. Certainly there is room for all personality types in the Lord’s work. We need hard-working servants like Martha just as much as we need sensitive learners like Mary. But, even so, the Lord here corrects Martha and commends Mary. Martha thought that the Lord would agree with her and, of course, we all think like that! But the Lord sided with Mary on this occasion. This means that those who are prone to be like Martha, worried and bothered about all the things to do, need to be on guard. It’s so easy to let the good crowd out the best. They need to take the time to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His word. That is the one thing necessary.
3. WE’RE AFRAID OF WHAT FAMILY AND FRIENDS WILL THINK OF US.
Mary did not succumb to this hindrance of sitting at Jesus’ feet, but she could have. She could have thought, “If I sit here listening to Jesus, Martha is going to get all hot and bothered, so I’d better go help her.” But that would have been a mistake. It’s not that we should sit around having our devotions when there is housework or preparations for meals that need to get done. It’s not right to leave all the work to the servant types, while we spiritual types sit around not lifting a finger. The question is one of balance. Martha was overboard on her preparations and it was keeping her from this key moment of hearing Jesus teach on spiritual things.
I have observed that families have a way of hindering change. Even when there are severely unhealthy relationship patterns and some of the family members insist that they want the problem member to change, if he or she actually does change, it threatens everyone else because they can no longer blame the problem person for what’s wrong in the family. So they do things to cause the changed member to fail and then they say, “See, he’s no different than he ever was.”
So if you decide that you’re going to spend time each day alone with the Lord, and as a result of that time, you begin to change in your attitudes and behavior in the family, be on guard! Your new godly ways will expose their old sinful ways and convict them. Your change means that other family members can no longer blame you for their sinful ways, and they will attack you in an attempt to get things back to the old “normal.” You’ve got to determine to hold firmly and graciously to sitting at Jesus’ feet, no matter what other family members may say or do.
So, hopefully you are motivated to spend time consistently sitting at Jesus’ feet. You’re aware of the hindrances that need to be overcome and resisted in order to do it. Finally, …