How many times this week has someone asked, "How are you?" How many times have you answered, "Fine, but busy." It has become my standard answer these days and sometimes that bothers me.

There's a familiar story in the Bible that many point to when we talk about the hazards of being too busy. It takes place at the height of Jesus? ministry on earth. He was travelling about the country with an entourage ? twelve disciples and a crowd of hangers-on. He often stopped in a place called Bethany, where two sisters opened their home to him and made him welcome. It's in the home of Mary and Martha that this scene occurs.


No doubt the house was packed. Martha had been working hard to make sure everyone was well taken care of. But Mary was just sitting at the feet of the Lord. Martha complained. Jesus rebuked her. "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed." (Luke 10:41)

Now it's at this point that most people jump in and say that Martha was too busy, that she should have been doing what Mary did. I've always thought that was a bit unfair. Someone had to wash all those dusty feet as they came in the door. Someone had to prepare all those meals and find a place for everyone to rest. Why did Jesus rebuke Martha for doing what she was good at and what needed to be done?

We see Martha again in the book of John, chapters 11 and 12. We see her accusing Jesus of not being there when she needed him, then we see her opening her home to him again, and throwing a party for him. In the last scene, there are only two words that describe her ? "Martha served ..." (John 12:2). Yet no words of accusation come from her lips, and there is no rebuke this time. It makes me think Martha had learned something, something vital.

I think Martha learned that what she was doing with her hands was not nearly as important as what she was doing with her heart and her mind. It wasn't her busyness that was the problem. It was her attitude toward her service and toward Jesus himself. By chapter twelve, it would appear she'd got it right. She served, remaining in the background, and she made way for her sister to do what she was meant to do, in anointing their Lord. She made way for the Son of God to be glorified, not only in her home, but in her heart.

Sometimes we allow our busy schedules to rule our lives. Sometimes we need to stop and take time to enjoy our families, our friends, our God. But more often, we need to shift our perspective within that busy schedule. We need to focus on Jesus, to make sure, no matter what our hands are doing, our hearts are glorifying Him.

Marcia Laycock is a pastor's wife and freelance writer living in Alberta Canada.  Her devotional book, The Spur of the Moment has been endorsed by Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and others.  To order, and to view more of Marcia's writing, see her web site -
Copyright Marcia Lee Laycock, 2000, 2001,2002,2003,2004