The Mary and Martha narrative does not begin in Luke chapter ten but finds it’s origin in the Garden of Eden. In the beginning, two trees were present in the garden, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yahweh gave the option of two trees for love, choice, and to prove to the seen and unseen realm that only one thing is needful.
The deceiver knew if he could shift the focus of Adam and Eve from the tree of life and convince them another tree was their access to everything, he could accomplish his objective, steal trust in the call of a one thing lifestyle.
The serpent came to question what Abba had spoken, to convince them both that Abba was holding something back from them. The accuser came to offer them “enlightenment” and the ability to be like God, knowing both good and evil.
When Eve saw the fruit in Genesis 3:6, she saw delicious fruit (lust of the flesh), delightful to look upon (lust of the eye), and desirable to give one insight (pride of life). He deceptively convinced Eve that the tree of one thing was keeping them from knowing everything. When in actuality, the tree of one thing was their gate to inherit all things.
We, like Adam and Eve, still see the tree of knowledge as essential for our lives. This desire for knowledge explains our drive to consume books, watch countless hours of Youtube, subscribe to seven different podcasts, read five different blogs, and browse hundreds of articles, posts, and memes. What does this say about us?
We do not believe the call of one thing, to sit at the feet of Jesus, our tree of life, is enough. We still desire to know everything because we do not trust that the one thing will become our gate to inherit everything we need.
In Luke 10:38-42, we find two sisters, Mary and Martha. Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, and Martha is busy trying to do everything. Jesus considers this story to be a lesson of distracted and undistracted and who will do the one thing most needful.
The issue with Martha is not that she is doing something inherently wrong, but that she was not doing what matters. What hinders many in the lifestyle of devotion is not bad things; it’s usually good things that keep us from the one thing. Our mistake is that in the name of Christ, we make up our agenda of good things to do, yet Jesus still calls this a distraction.
Martha had ambition. Ambition is a strong desire to do or achieve something. When someone has ambition, they work hard and are full of determination. In American culture, we celebrate ambition, but it is the actual antithesis of a man of devotion. If you look to the original language of the verse where Jesus corrects Martha, it could read, “Martha, you are distracted by your agenda.”
I believe this is the reason very few people submit to the lifestyle of devotion and spiritual fathers. True spiritual fathers and the life of devotion will not justify ambition but will send you to the feet of Jesus until your identity and desires can be trusted. Any activity happening in your life not birthed out of intimacy with Jesus is most likely the cause of why you are not getting adequate time in the place that matters.
Many of you who are reading this article are not likely to need deliverance from the world, your distraction in devotion is your own agenda masked in the disguise of ministry. You like Martha, have focused on the guests, and missed His feet. That’s why many times, we find ourselves in much activity but find ourselves going nowhere.
Have you been eating from the tree of knowledge, believing if you gain more insight, you will be more productive in the earth? If so, you have fallen to the deception of the serpent. It’s your pursuit of everything that is keeping you from the thing most needful, His feet.
You are at high risk of missing the mark for your life as a Kingdom man through the busyness of good things when you deliberately choose not to rest in the one thing. No one who chose the feet of Jesus has ever become insignificant. Instead, they became distinct, accomplishing amazing things. Not because they pursued success but because at the feet of Jesus, you access everything that has significance.
If we are to become people of one thing, ask Holy Spirit to deal with your Martha tendencies. Would you be willing to partner with the grace to place your mind, will, and ambitions on the altar until we become like Mary doing the one thing most needful, undistracted, and sitting at the feet of Jesus?
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