Serving: A Distraction to Listening?

Serving: A Distraction to Listening?

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 10:42-42)

Jesus’ gracious rebuke to Martha haunts me.

"Martha was distracted with much serving" (Luke 10:40). But Mary "sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching" (Luke 10:39). Distraction is the enemy of listening. For Martha, at that moment, serving was a distraction. Serving became the enemy of the real good.

But that's not how it felt to Martha at the time. She thought she was doing the right thing. That's why she appealed to Jesus to exhort Mary to get off her rear and get busy serving. Martha was tired of carrying the load herself.

She was shocked to hear that Jesus didn’t value her serving as much as Mary’s listening.

A constant battle we face is letting the fragmentation of urgent demands distract us from the good of listening to Jesus. There is so much to do. If we believe things will change when we get on top of things, that we’ll finally have the time to listen more to Jesus after we’ve plowed through these demanding tasks hanging over our heads, we’re likely being deceived.

We tend to value the volume of things accomplished, and call that "productivity." God values the importance of things accomplished, and calls it "fruitfulness" (John 15:5). And here’s what’s important to God: that we listen to and believe Jesus. "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent" (John 6:29).

So beware of your perceptions. Listening often doesn’t feel like doing. But it might just be the most important thing God wants you to get done today.

Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) is the author of Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith and serves as the President of Desiring God, which he and John Piper launched together in 1994. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Pam, their five children, and one naughty dog.