My time in two particular passages in the last few days has had me thinking and praying and realizing again a central truth. Some things God knows you need to hear again and again. This is one for me. Luke 10:38-42 – Jesus with Martha and Mary. Martha is so busy and anxious about “many thing” – things that are seemingly good things (she is, after all, working to provide for Jesus). She is doing things that must be done (people need to eat and food doesn’t just prepare & cook itself on it’s own).
Yet – Jesus confronts her in her distress to calm her and gently expose her wrong-thinking, desiring to bring her closer to truth. Jesus says, simply: “There is but one thing necessary.” (v. 42) What is it? Whatever it is, Mary had chosen it (v. 42). He says it’s “the good portion.” And what had Mary chosen? Positioning her heart on Jesus. Sitting, resting, listening at his feet. Enjoying his presence. Soaking in his words.
His message is clear. There is only one thing necessary: Knowing and enjoying Jesus. He is lasting (Rev. 1:8). Our relationship with Him is lasting (John 10:28). What’s done out of love and longing for Him is lasting (Matthew 25:31-40). Yes – work is good and necessary. But work is not an end in itself. It’s not the purpose of your life. Knowing and loving Jesus is. Everything is done for this. Everything should be done from this. Do we find this the overwhelming priority of our life and days? Or, as Dallas-based pastor Matt Chandler puts it, “Could it be that we have exchanged water for gold in the desert? Could it be that we have neglected the one necessary thing for a thousand things that aren’t?”
Another passage I read recently parallels this truth: Mark 7:1-22. In this passage, Jesus is exposing the hypocrisy (play-acting) of the Pharisees (the church people/religious crowd of the day). The Pharisees are busy at work – here, work for God – they are going to much effort to ensure that their hands are cleaned properly so that when they eat they will in no way be defiled. However, Jesus condemns their practice, saying that they have missed the truth of it all. “You go to so much trouble, you work so hard to make sure nothing that goes in you is unclean. However, there is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him. What defiles a person is what comes out of him…. what comes out of his heart” (v. 15-22). The point: It’s amazing how much energy & effort we can put into things that aren’t necessary (even “religious” things). If we would only spend that same energy & effort into the things that are!
There is but one thing necessary. Knowing and enjoying Jesus. Have you chosen it? Are you choosing it? Wake up every day and remind yourself of the true end, meaning and purpose of your life. Sure, work is unavoidable. In fact, work is good. But worship is necessary. Worship, then work. Worship first and always so you can worship while you work. Worship first and always so you can worship through your work. We need a heart of love and admiration for Jesus. This is not optional. This is the work of God’s Spirit. Ask Him to give you a new heart to desire Him above all else. In the midst of a thousand other things staring you down each day, don’t look past and neglect the one necessary thing – knowing & enjoying God.