The importance of abiding with Christ is shown in the story of Mary and Martha. Abiding is the best work one of Jesus’ disciples can be about.
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
It can be tempting to look at the story of Mary and Martha and attempt to compare them in this story. In addition, the question is often asked as to which one we are more like.
However, asking this question actually illustrates the need for the proper answer. The importance of abiding with Christ is that He is to be our focus. Martha was asking Jesus if Mary would be more like her. The truth is, we all need to be more like Jesus. And the way to do that is to abide with Him.
Jesus indicated that Mary chose well by focusing on Him. It would be wise for us to reflect further on why He commended Mary.
The Importance of Abiding With Christ
Our best efforts, our wisest use of our time is spent in connection with Jesus Christ. Praying to Him, studying His word, and fellowshipping with other believers. We need to live our lives ever in His presence, obeying His voice, drawing on His strength.
When we abide with Christ, it empowers everything we do, even the ordinary things of life. God wants us to give our efforts as if we were doing them directly for God (Colossians 3:23-24).
If we live our lives with this outlook, keeping our focus on Christ, then we will be ever present with Him. We will bring Christ with us in our homes, careers, hobbies, and service.
Martha opened her home to Christ, but in this moment allowed the rituals and expectations of this world to momentarily take precedence over the reason she invited Him in the first place.
Mary Commended ≠ Martha Condemned
Did Martha sin by busying herself? We don’t see evidence of this in the passage. Her personal motives may have led to the right idea with the wrong execution. She may have felt she was honoring Christ by preparing for His stay.
It is important to note that Jesus did not condemn Martha; instead, Jesus stated why Mary was to be commended. Mary was recognizing the importance of abiding with Christ – to enjoy His presence and take in His teaching.
It is interesting that Martha did not go to Mary and tell her to stop listening to Jesus. Martha went to Jesus and asked Him to release Mary to help her. Martha may have been focused on other things, but she was not being rebellious; in that moment she confirmed her heart attitude that Jesus was their authority.
We can infer from this story that Jesus had a larger audience than just Mary. How would this story have changed if Martha had decided to sit at Jesus’ feet as well? I can imagine one of the disciples eventually grumbling about dinner being late because Martha was sitting at Jesus’ feet. I can also imagine that Jesus would have said something similar to them.
If we are tempted to judge Martha, remember this is the same Martha who sought Jesus upon the death of her brother Lazarus. She openly confessed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God (John 11:20-27).
Martha is one of the few people in the Gospels attributed with this confession. Overall, Martha also abided with Christ, evidenced by her intimate belief in Him as the Son of God.
Abiding With Christ Produces Results
When we pay attention to the importance of abiding with Christ, spending time in Christ’s presence, something interesting happens. Work does get done. As we spend time connected to Christ, we begin to produce the fruit of the spirit. Out of that, our light begins to shine brighter and brighter in the world, and then we are naturally compelled to do the work that matters to the Kingdom.
Ultimately, this is the kind of “work” that Christ is interested in, abiding with Christ. For apart from Him we can do nothing.
Let us all remember that our first, best work is to do the one thing; abide with Christ.
Take a look at these Bible verses about the importance of abiding with Christ: