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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#1038. The ‘one thing’ that’s needed (19/4/24)

This week, in our Luke series, we’ve been reflecting pick on the account of Mary and Martha. Today, let’s briefly consider how we are to give our focus to the most important things.  

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”’ (Luke 10:38-42) 

Lesson: If we are to make listening to Jesus is our priority, we must say no to other less important things. 

To listen to this devotional, go to:

Many of us fail to take responsibility for our lives. Of course, we can become busy because of things beyond our control, but most of the busyness in our lives has been caused by our failure to say “No” to things, or a failure to count the cost before taking on more pressure. Every “Yes” is a “no” to something else and, for reasons that it’s hard to fathom, it’s often our family, friends, health and our relationship with God that are compromised as we take on more responsibility and hours at work for example. You may have heard, ‘no one said on his deathbed, “I wish I spent more time in the office”’ Or, to bring this up to date, “I wish I’d had time for more Zoom meetings”!  

I’m so far from being an expert on time management that I’m reluctant to say anything, but I do know that the art of time management is to never allow what is most important to be at the mercy of what is least important. This week’s text about Mary and Martha makes it clear that sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to Him is most important. Jesus corrects Martha’s complaint with:

‘“you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”’

This account intimates that Martha was invited and had opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him but she chose not to do this. The choice of words ‘But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made’, show that there may well have been others to help but that Mary was ‘distracted’ from what was more important. She allowed what was urgent to pull her attention from what was most important. Like her, life can become overwhelming when we fail to listen to Christ because we allow distractions to fill up our time. Distractions are not always bad things but we must take responsibility so as not to allow lesser things and other people’s priorities to overwhelm us with busyness, which leads to anger. 

To prioritise time listening to Jesus will challenge our pride, ego, fear or and failure to plan: 

It could not be more important to look at prayer [or time listening to Jesus] today, for we live in a world where people believe they are self-sufficient. They don’t need to cry out for help. And Christians are swept along: we are becoming like busy Martha, doing our many tasks but failing to sit with Mary at Jesus’ feet. But without prayer, Christians are hollow. For prayer is the mark of Christian integrity. (Reeves. Authentic Ministry. P. 20)


If we are to make listening to Jesus is our priority, we must say no to other less important things. A great book on godly time management is Redeeming your Time by Jordan Raynor. What I love about this book is the way that He puts prayer and time with God at the heart of how we organise our time. The book is organised around  seven powerful time-management principles drawn from the example of how Jesus lived. The first two are: 

  1. Start with the word: Find meaningful connection with the author of time daily. 

  2. Let your yes be yes: Accept only the commitments you can fulfil.

‘To redeem our time in the model of our Redeemer, we must first know the Author of time, his purposes for the world, and what he has called us to do with the time he has given us… If we are to master time, we must come to know the author of time, the meaning of time, and come to know the part he calls us to play in his grand story.’ (Jordan Raynor, Redeeming Your Time) 


1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

Please ensure that the members of your group are aware and familiar with using the daily devotionals, which are accessed in Church News, the Teaching button on the website and are now available on the major podcast platforms. 

2. Icebreaker

How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you? 

3. Worship together

Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another.

4. Study and pray together

Our message from our series in Luke on Sunday, based upon Mary and Martha from Luke 10:38-42. This narrative follows on from The Parable of the Good Samaritan, and I trust that we can see the similarities between the Samaritan and Martha; Luke, it seems, does this as a balance to teach us that practical love is very important, but it’s vital that our practical love and service flow out of our devotional life. Luke uses this narrative to, again, emphasise the need to listen to Jesus.  

Please read Luke 10:38-42, and discuss: 

  • Did God speak to you about anything specifically from Sunday’s message?

  • What does Jesus reveal as the most important thing for every one of us? 

  • Let’s review a few ways that Luke has already been emphasising listening to Jesus; read: Luke  6:49, 8:15, 8:18, 8:21, 9:35. Why is listening to Jesus so important? 

  • What distractions and less important things distract you from sitting at Jesus’ feet in prayer and the Word? 

  • What’s your current devotional habit? When, where and what do you do? Or, what plan would you like to start? (Using our Come to Jesus Daily Devotionals, would be a helpful addition). 

  • SIV - Why will following Mary’s exam

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