“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)
Before this year ends and we plunge into the next one, I want to draw our attention to 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 her Lord (v. 40). But I choose today for my final words to you this year (Lord willing) to focus on these words of Jesus to Mary that speak so profoundly to my own heart. There are three thoughts laid out here, I think, that can help us set a course for the coming year, and 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 good, but only one thing is needful. Other things may reach a high level of importance; but only one thing reaches the level of supreme importance. In this case, it was service to the Savior that clamored for preeminence, but fell miserably behind in standing before Him. In the great scheme of things, our service to God does much more for us than it does for Him. And I must say, any service to Him has brought me great joy through the years. But I have found that what I receive from the time I spend time in His Presence is like food, water, and air to me. In short, I need it. In truth, 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 most of life is determined by our choices; and whether foreordained or the result of free will, we’re still called upon to make them. Devotion to the Person of Jesus Christ is not mystical; it’s 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’ve made the right choice.
One Principle is Undeniable
“…which shall not be taken away from her.” The undeniable, over-riding principle that gives credence to the argument that communion with Christ is the only truly needful thing, is that it’s the only thing that cannot be taken away from us. The day will come when you will not be able to render service to God as you want, or in the way to which you’re accustomed. For many of us, this day has already arrived. When that day comes, it’s 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—the best authority—that the most needful thing is a reserved spot at the feet of Jesus.
And so, my faithful friends and readers, my one last thing for 2013 is merely “a variation on a theme.” For if my writings have a theme at all, it’s the importance of maintaining (to the best of our ability) unbroken fellowship with God, through the intermediacy of His Son, Jesus Christ, the intercession of the Holy Spirit, and the infusion of His infallible Word in our life. My words may be more homespun than homiletic, more pertinent than profound; but if God can use them to glorify Him and inspire love for Jesus Christ and His Word, I’ll forge ahead into 2014. How about you? Let’s begin again; we’ve only scratched the surface!
What shall I wish thee! treasures of earth?
Songs in the springtime, pleasures and mirth?
Flowers in thy pathway, skies ever clear?
Would this insure thee a happy new year?
Peace in the Savior, rest at His feet,
Smile in His countenance, radiant and sweet;
Joy in His presence, Christ ever near—
This will insure thee a happy new year.
- Frances Ridley Havergal