Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 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 10:38-42 ESV
In the Gospel of Luke, the visit of Jesus to the home of Mary, Martha & Lazarus brings about this brief but precious conversation — and an arresting statement. What is this “one thing necessary” that Jesus speaks about?
In directing Martha (and all of us) to turn to “the one thing necessary” our Lord points to a contrast here, that Mary had chosen better — a superior use of her time, a more important focus for her energies and cares. Jesus told Martha that she was anxious and troubled about many things. Granted, Martha was not doing anything inherently wrong; in fact she was doing much that was good! Yet, Jesus implies that her heart was tangled up, her busyness was not right. She was distracted and worried and upset in a worldly way. Our hearts can be pulled away from the Lord by busyness in respectable activities. God does not want our busyness — religious or otherwise. God wants our hearts. Indeed the greatest commandment of all of Scripture is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38). This is what Mary appears to be doing — learning at the feet of Jesus, even worshipping as she took in His words of truth and life. She put first things first and Jesus was so very pleased!
Jesus points to Mary and tells Martha (and us): that’s the better thing, that is the one thing necessary! Oh how the world misunderstands what God requires — and how much those who are merely religious miss the most important thing. Many people think they know what Jesus wants, but will not listen to His very words here to Martha! As a famous preacher once said, it should be our first and sole business to attend to our soul’s business!
Today over at the DesiringGod blog Marshall Segal writes about money (“Four Questions to Keep Close to Your Wallet”). His opening line is right on: “It’s hard to imagine many things more maligned in Scripture than money.”
He opens by putting the topic in the big picture for Christians –—
At the end of the day, we must each know our own hearts and be willing to ask what role money is playing in our thoughts and affections. Is it a means of worshiping God or a means of replacing him? Is our budget highlighting the sufficiency and worth of Christ or has it become a reason for boasting in or treasuring something other than him?
He then presents & discusses four questions we should be asking:
1. Is my spending marked by Christian generosity?
2. What does my spending say about what makes me most happy?
3. Does my spending suggest I’m collecting for this life?
4. Is my spending explicitly supporting the spread of the gospel?
I encourage you to click through and read the whole thing at the DesiringGod blog. Thanks Marshall Segal.
Our founding fathers “were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power“ said President Calvin Coolidge on this date (July 5th) in 1926. He was in Philadelphia to a speech commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The whole text is available here. Coolidge emphasized that “in its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document.”
Such clarity of thought and understanding is near extinct in our land, so I urge you to read the speech, and breath its fresh and vital air. Here is an excerpt —
No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed.
Yes, the things of the spirit come first! May liberty yet be revived in our land.
We must beware of thinking too much about our meals, our furniture, our houses, and all those many things which concern the life of the body. We must strive to live like people whose first thoughts are about the immortal soul. We must endeavor to pass through the world like people who are not yet at home, and are not so troubled about the fare they meet with on the road and at the inn. Blessed are they who feel like pilgrims and strangers in this life, and whose best things are all to come!
~ J.C. Ryle
from his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke volume 1, (Banner of Truth).
[J C Ryle quote blog]