Choosing the Good Part

Bible on a park bench

In Luke’s gospel we read of an occasion when two sisters received a visit from the Lord. Those two sisters made two choices – one of these choices reflected the right priorities. Both of these women provide important lessons for us today.

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42).

Martha chose to focus on hospitality. She was busy with preparations for guests in her home. As she worked to make everything ready, she became frustrated with her sister who was not helping her. She even protested to Jesus and told Him to tell Mary to help. Ordinarily, what Martha was doing was important. God’s people are to be hospitable. The Hebrew writer reminded his audience, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). Peter wrote, “Be hospitable to one another without complaint” (1 Peter 4:9). Yet Martha complained to the Lord while attempting to show hospitality. The problem was that showing hospitality was not as important in that instance as she thought it was.

Mary chose to focus on Jesus and His teaching. Jesus said that she had “chosen the good part” (Luke 10:42). As good as it is to entertain guests, it was better to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him speak. Knowing Jesus and His word must take precedence in our lives over other things. Paul wrote of the importance of knowing Christ in his letter to Philippi: “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). In his letter to Rome, he described the importance of divine wisdom and knowledge – things that can only be found in the word of God: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33). While helping her sister entertain guests might have been good at other times, Mary chose what was better on this occasion.

Let us not allow good things to distract us from better things. Spiritual things must take precedence over the things of this life. A well-prepared meal for a guest – though enjoyable and appreciated – will not save anyone. However, the words of Christ bring salvation. Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63). Peter recognized this and said to Jesus, “You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Let us choose “the good part” (Luke 10:42) and make Christ and His word the highest priority in our lives.

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  1. […] “Let us not allow good things to distract us from better things.” Andy Sochor meditates on choosing “the good part.” […]