Now I know the story of Mary and Martha isn’t the most manly story, but it’s the best passage to make my point. In Luke 10, Jesus arrived at Mary and Martha’s about mealtime. As the perfect hostess, it was Martha who let them in. Notice the details. Martha’s sister, Mary, sat at Jesus’s feet and heard his words, but Martha was distracted with serving. She said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (v. 40b).
Jesus basically answered, “Martha, chill out.”
When I read this, I winced. I really connect with God when I’m serving him. It feels good, and I often feel his pleasure. So where does that leave me? What did Mary have that Martha needed? What was the “good portion” (v. 42) Mary chose? In a world filled with the distractions of single parenting, the story of Mary and Martha can frustrate us if we are men prone to do rather than stop and become.
The Gospels are clear that Jesus felt pretty comfortable in the home of Mary and Martha and their brother, Lazarus. The four weren’t just acquaintances; they were close friends. The siblings spoke to Jesus as if he were family. Jesus was at ease with them.
If you read no further, you could assume Mary was a bit lazy. But John's account of that same visit (Ch. 12) gives us more detail about the visit. Mary took a pound of very costly oil and anointed Jesus’s feet, then wiped it up with her hair. The whole house was filled with the fragrance.
Obviously Mary was so dedicated to Jesus that no expense was too great or demanding. This attitude is the kind of approach God desires from us. It’s illuminating to contrast the two siblings’ relationship. Martha was so comfortable with Jesus that she openly included him in her frustration. “Don’t you care?” she asked.
Humorously, Martha didn’t suggest that he ask Mary to help; she told him directly. Jesus responded tenderly: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (vv. 41-42).
If you’re like me, you have to make a choice as a dad to stop trying to be the best. While it’s true that a lot of men need to step it up in the area of fatherhood, I can err in the other direction too—thinking excellent parenting is something we do to please God. But we must seek the good part, like Mary. Jesus tells us our highest priority in life should be to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, first.
I don’t know about you, but I have to ask, “What did Jesus mean when He spoke of that good part, which will not be taken away from Mary?”
The apostle John answers us: "For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:16-17).
Let me reword that for us fathers.
Everything the world throws at single dads—lust for sexual encounters, desire for possessions for ourselves and our kids, recognition as good dads—it all comes from mere humans. There’s nothing honorable or long-lasting about it. Because this planet is fizzling out, along with all the stuff in it. But fathers who choose the good thing of spending time in God’s presence have chosen something that lasts forever.We can work harder than a chiropractor at a rodeo trying to do the right thing as Christian dads.
Yet the moments with God that we accumulate in this life will be ours forever, never taken away from
us. Like Mary, we must learn to be in Christ. So what does that look like?