Serving vs Sitting:  The Greater Portion  – Beka Burch


Have you ever felt busy, yet ineffective in your Christian walk? As though you are constantly looking at a full schedule but not experiencing a full heart? I know we have all felt this way at times, but I pray that in the span of the next 5 minutes (can you read a blog that fast?) that we would be encouraged in knowing that the priority of our Christian life is to sit at the feet of Jesus SO THAT we can be effective followers of Jesus.


In Luke 10: 38-42 we read about two sisters that give us true insight into what I mean….


“Now as they went on their way, Jesus[d] entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.[e] Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”


As we dive into this story,  let’s look at 3 important points of being effective followers of Jesus:



            For a woman to sit at the feet of Jesus was a BIG deal back in the times of the New Testament. Normally, women were not allowed to sit at the feet of a rabbi. So for Jesus to be pleased with Mary learning of him in this way was huge. He is showing us that everyone can come to his feet and sit there to learn of him and love him. And not only that, but that it is NECESSARY to be a follower of Jesus.


Jesus told Martha that the one thing they needed was to SIT and LEARN OF HIM. He was the right choice, the greater portion. When seeing what Mary did, I am reminded of so many scriptures that discuss the Lord being our deepest desire, our greater portion. Psalm 16:5 says “The Lord is my portion and cup” and Psalm 27:4 furthers this thought: “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.”

Think of it in this wayHave you ever been to a water park that had a refillable bucket that dumped every few minutes? When you sit under it for a while and wait, you get submerged with the water (and tons of it)! Now picture yourself holding a bucket. If you were to run around the water park trying to catch a drop here and catch a drop there, you would never actually fill up your bucket. You would get tired hopping from spot to spot and lose some as you tirelessly run. Your life is like that bucket. Instead of running, trying to fill our spiritual selves up by “doing all the things,” we must sit and wait on the Lord to fill us.




In the story, Martha was clearly anxious about many things – pleasing Jesus, serving Him the best food and drink, taking care of His physical needs, and worrying about why Mary wasn’t helping her. She was frustrated and upset, and Jesus could see that.


In the same way, we can easily become anxious, troubled, critical of others, and can MISS intimacy with Jesus, just like Martha did.

Have you ever hosted a party and you felt too busy to even enjoy it? You are running around making sure the coffee pot is brewing, the food isn’t running out, the napkins are all in place, the people seem happy, their drinks are refilled, etc. In the moment, you feel in control and like the whole party depends on you, but then when the party is over and everyone is gone, you sit back in REGRET. You wished you would have spent more time sitting with those who you invited over to your house. But now the time is gone.


This is what Martha was doing. Jesus could see the anxiety and troubles all over her face and body language as I can imagine her running from the kitchen to the living room, tending to people’s needs and missing the whole point of Jesus’ presence.


I have been in this place many times. And God has shown me to ask myself some questions to evaluate my heart and my choices. So, here they are: Where do you find yourself when you are wanting to please God? Is it task upon task? Because if it is, that is a pretty good indicator that our priorities in pleasing Jesus are mixed up…


Or is it purely waking up in the morning and sitting in his presence, opening up his word, talking to him through the day, etc. This is the greater portion!



BUT! Spiritual intimacy will ALWAYS lead to spiritual service.


Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and gained the strength she would need to move forward in any task she went forth to do. Martha busied herself with tasks, ran out of energy, and got frustrated. By her countenance, you could see her lack of maturity in trusting who Jesus was and allowing him to work in her life.


We have to realize that we must go where Mary went, to do what Martha did.


Mary’s approach to Jesus was to sit and learn from His feet and to dwell in his presence. We know that out of this approach we will gain a love and knowledge of who he is and in turn, be more like Him. With that conformity of discipleship, we will most certainly serve Jesus and his people.


Martha’s approach was first to the busyness of life and the checklist of spiritual tasks. But with that order, we will be too exhausted to sit at the feet of Jesus when all the tasks have been completed. I pray that we do not expend our energy out of turn, but trust in God to keep us at His feet.



I pray that after reading a narrative like Mary and Martha’s, we would see the urgency of spending time at the feet of Jesus, not only to learn more of Him and be conformed to His image, but to truly live an effective life as one of His followers.


Evaluate your heart before Jesus as a follower. Are you doing the one thing that Jesus deemed absolutely necessary? Or are you running around “in His name,” but leaving completely frustrated and exhausted?


I pray that we would all choose the greater portion – sitting – so that we can be effective and joyful in serving.

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