“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)
In the familiar story of Mary and her sister Martha, much has been made of Martha’s fevered service that ended in criticism of her sister and ill-advised words to Jesus. And I have been one those many engaged in this discussion. But on this first day of a year that many of us look forward to with fear and trepidation, to say the least, it is these words of Jesus to Mary that speak to my heart anew. To my way of thinking, there are three thoughts laid out here that can help us set a course for the coming year, and through all of life, for that matter.
One Thing is Needful
“But one thing is needful…”
These four words stop us in mid-sentence when we are tempted to say, “But what about__?” Other things are nice, but only one thing is needful. Other things may reach a level of importance; but only one thing reaches the level of supreme importance. Only one thing is actually needed. In this case, it was service that clamored for preeminence, but fell miserably behind in standing before God. In the great scheme of things, our service to God does much more for us than it does for Him. I think I need to say that again: Our service to God does much more for us than it does for Him. Service to Him is wonderful. It has brought me great joy through the years. But what God does for me when I spend time at His feet is like food, water, and air to me. I need it. In fact, as Jesus told those in Mary and Martha’s house that day, I need it more than anything else in this world.
One Word is Pivotal
“…and Mary hath chosen that good part…”
The pivotal word here is “chosen.” Mary was neither commanded by Jesus to sit and listen at His feet; nor was she encouraged by those around her to do so, as far as we know. Whether or not you put fellowship with Him above all else is a choice that you alone make. In the end, you set your own priorities. For all the many texts in the Bible that assure us of the Sovereignty of God, there are a surprising amount of others that make it clear much of the Christian life depends on our choices, and whether foreordained or the result of free will, we are still called upon to make them. Devotion to the Person of Jesus Christ is not mystical; it is methodical. Deliberately choosing the path of unbroken fellowship (stumbles and all) may not be popular, especially with non-stop saints; but the fact remains, Jesus said, when you do it, you have “chosen that good part.”
One Principle is Over-Riding
“…which shall not be taken away from her.”
The over-riding principle that gives credence to the argument that communion with Christ is the only truly needful thing, is that it is the only thing that cannot be taken away from us. The day will come when you and I will not be able to render service to God as we want or in the way to which we are accustomed. When that day comes, it will be important to have one area in our Christian life that remains constant and familiar. Something that has already taken its place as the most important part.
And we have it on good authority that the one thing—the one needful thing—is a reserved spot at the feet of Jesus.
The most important part of the Christian life is the part that only God sees.