Only One Thing
Zoe Elmore

"You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42 (NIV)

I had a college professor who told our health class to be sure we had eight hours of sleep, eight hours of work, and eight hours of leisure. It was her opinion that this formula would bring about a balanced life.

I can see you rolling your eyes and thinking, "Really?"

While I don't agree with my professor's formula I do agree that our lives must have balance and in order to achieve that balance we must return to putting our relationship with the Lord first.
Remember the story where Jesus told Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus that she needed to rethink her priorities? Martha was upset with Mary because she dropped what she was doing to sit at the feet of Jesus. Martha, however, continued with her hostess responsibilities until she had enough.

"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!'" (Luke 10:40, NIV).

But Jesus told Martha that it was Mary who had put her relationship with the Lord first in her life. "'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her'" (Luke 10:41-42,NIV).

Martha was one smart lady and she learned her lesson well. After this encounter, when Jesus arrived to call Lazarus from the grave, it was Mary who stayed in the house and Martha who went out to greet Him.

I love that it was Martha to whom Jesus said: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26, NIV).

Her reply confirms just how much Martha's priorities had changed: "'Yes, Lord,' she told him, 'I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world'" (John 11:27,NIV).

Setting priorities in today's fast-paced life can be challenging for sure. We try to squeeze as much as we can into the twenty four hours in each day. Yet when we've had enough and can't take any more, that's when we find ourselves crying out to the Lord for help. If you're anything like me you will hear His sweet words whispering to your heart, "Only one thing is needed."

The simple truth is when we put God first in our lives; everything else will fall into place. Our responsibilities will continue and the demands of life will go on but God will be there to help us bring order out of chaos. "In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:6,NIV).

Dear Lord, I confess that my life is pulled in too many directions. When I am anxious about doing things I have trouble hearing Your Word. Help me to treasure the "one thing" that I need and trust You to put the rest in order. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Zoe’s blog for more encouragement

All I Need is Jesus & a Good Pair of Jeans by Susanna Foth Aughtmon

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

Find a bit more balance with our free resource, Good Thing or God Thing?

Application Steps:
Prioritize all the commitments and responsibilities you have.

Ask God to reorganize your list and follow His leading.

What is your number one priority today?

Power Verses:
Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." (NIV)

Matthew 6:33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (NIV)

© 2010 by Zoe Elmore. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

How true, how true. I almost always feel like a Martha when I know I need to be a Mary. My cousin preached a wonderful sermon on this topic of putting God before all and this reminds me of something he shared. He said, very simply, that "priorities are not to be juggled, they are to be ordered." So often in the chaos of day-to-day life I hear the Holy Spirit whisper "Are you juggling?" That's when I know I need to let God put it in His order. It's just so difficult to put anything down. Thanks for this reminder.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it's true but in a practical sense I'm not always sure what "seeking first His kingdom" looks like...

I wonder if I am doing it...and sometimes fear I am missing the mark...

How do I know that He is pleased?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder..I keep asking the Lord to help me order my life each day and to put him first..but why does it seem as if we live in a Martha world...always rushing not finding time to do the right things and spending time at the foot of the Lord. We really need the Holy spirit to remind us and keep us on our toes.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I often feel pulled in many directions at once. Remembering to put God first has brought me a great sense of comfort and peace. I pray that I and others like me, will continually be reminded to put God first and put trust in His ability to give us the strength to tackle the many tasks put before us.

So so true! Thanks for this reminder Zoe!

Blogger Kelsie said...

Anonymous, I think to know He is pleased is to have peace. At the beginning of your day, pray that God would order your priorities and give you peace. Continue to pray throughout the day, and ask the Holy Spirit for discernment. I need to practice what I'm saying here, because lately I haven't had peace about my commitments. When I believe the Lord is pleased with me, I have the most joy. Now, though, I feel out of order, and I need to center myself on Him.
Great devotion!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW!!! Just what I needed to hear this morning. I am really having a struggle with making our money stretch as far as it will go. After reading your devotion this morning it just confirmed for me that if I put the Lord first and give my tithes first thing instead of what is left over that he will bless me. Thanks for being my answer from the Lord today. Pray that I will be as faithful to the Lord as he is to me!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've been discussing this very topic in our Single Moms Bible Study at my church...LOVE the days that I remember to let God prioritize instead of trying to do it myself!

Blogger Léslie Lansky SPS said...

Thank you for the encouragement you gave me this afternoon.
God bless you all.

Léslie (from São Paulo, Brazil)

Anonymous Brooke Espinoza said...

Great devotion. Oh how easy it is to get swept up in the responsibilities of the day and see time with the Lord as a luxury rather than a necessity. I'm encouraged that Martha learned her lesson, and as a result enjoyed a closer bond in her relationship with Jesus.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can only say I'm in awe of my God! I have slacked off in my devotions in the last week because I've been "too busy" studying for the most important finals in my life yet, the first year of dental school finals! I have forgotten that God is who brought me to this place in my life, fulfilling ALL my dreams and that He's always been faithful and is fully capable of being so today. I've been trying to tackle this huge task on my own and I'm exhausted, I'm drained and stressed. After sleeping about 4 hours I got up again to get an early start today. As I usually do, I went to the devotional and read the day's devotion, but after I did so I felt compelled to read the most recent one below, and wouldn't you know that's when God stopped me in my ways!
Thank you Lord! I'm sorry I've been so much like Martha, I've always loved you but I tend to forget that you and only you must be the center of my life at all times and everything else will fall into place. Please forgive me and turn me around, I want you to shine through this trial, you are all I need and with you I am invincible!
I love you ladies and I'm so blessed God put you into my life. Although I don't have the pleasure of knowing each of you in person, you bless me every day! God bless you!

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