August 14: Being Busy
Isaiah 29:1–30:17; Luke 10:1–42; Job 7:1–10
Sometimes it’s difficult to deal with quiet. For most people, chaos, deadlines, managing multiple schedules, and being “so busy” are a way of life. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we like it. Busyness implies we are special and valued and the work we’re doing is necessary. And we have a desperate need to be valued.
When others failed to recognize Martha’s work—when Mary didn’t hold to the same values—she complained to Jesus. He responded by rebuking her: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things! But few things are necessary, or only one thing, for Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41–42).
What is the “better part”? Mary “sat at the feet of Jesus and was listening to his teaching” (Luke 10:39), and Jesus praised her desire to listen and learn. Mary was captivated by the “one thing” that would change the world: Jesus and the kingdom He was ushering in. Jesus showed Martha that she should also give Him this reception—being willing to learn, not anxious about her busy schedule. He asked her to shift her perspective.
Choosing the “better part” doesn’t invalidate the things we’re busy with; indeed, Martha’s work served the needs of others. But the things we do shouldn’t shape our identity. The “one thing” that should shape our identity—the one thing we really need—is Jesus. Ultimately, it’s the desire to know Him and serve Him that should shape our lives. And whatever is not dedicated to that service is not among “the few things [that] are necessary.”
What things are you busy with? Why?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- Ah altar, altar of the city that David dwelt in: add year unto year: let them kill lambs. But I will bring the altar into the duress, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow, and it shall be unto me like an altar. And I will besiege thee as a circle, and fight against thee on a mount, and will cast up ramparts against thee. So shalt thou be humbled, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be as out of the dust: thy voice also shall be out of the ground like him that hath a spirit of divination, and thy talking shall whisper out of the dust. Moreover, multitude of thy strangers shall be like dust, and the multitude of strong men shall be a chaff that passeth away: and it shall be in a moment, even suddenly. Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and shaking, and a great noise, a whirlwind, and a tempest, and a flame of a devouring fire. And the multitude of all nations that fight against the altar, shall be as a dream or a vision by night: even all they that make the war against it, to lay siege unto it. And it shall be like as an hungry man dreamed, and behold, he eateth: and when he awaketh, his soul is empty: or like as a thirsty man dreameth, and lo, he is drinking, and when he awaketh, behold, he is faint, and his soul longeth: so shall the multitude of nations be that fight against mount Zion. Stay yourselves and wonder: they are blind, and make you blind: they are drunken, but not with wine: they stagger, but not by strong drink. For the Lord hath covered you with a spirit of slumber, and hath shut up your eyes: the Prophet, and your chief Seers hath he covered. And the vision of them all is become unto you, as the words of a book that is sealed up, which they deliver to one that can read, saying, Read this, I pray thee. Then they he say, I cannot; for it is sealed. And the book is given unto him that cannot read, saying, Read this, I pray thee. And he shall say, I cannot read. Therefore the Lord said, Because this people come near unto me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear toward me, and their fear toward me was taught by the precept of man. Therefore behold, I will again do a marvelous work in this people, even a marvelous work, and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord: for their works are in darkness, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? Your turning of devices shall it not be esteemed as the potters clay? for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or the thing formed, say of him that fashioned it, He had none understanding? It is not yet but a little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into Carmel? and Carmel shall be counted as a forecast? (Isaiah 29:1–30:17)
- After these things, the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them, two and two before him into every city and place, whither he himself should come. And he said unto them, The harvest is given, but the laborers are few: pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Bear no bag, neither scrip, nor shoes, and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon him, if not, it shall turn to you again. And in that house tarry still, eating and drinking such things as by them shall be set before you: for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Go not from house to house. But into whatsoever city ye shall enter, if they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick that are there, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come near unto you. But into whatsoever city ye shall enter, if they receive you, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust, which cleaveth on us of your city, we wipe off against you: notwithstanding know this, that the kingdom of God was come near unto you. For I say to you, it shall be easier for Sodom, than for that city. Woe be to thee, Chorazin: woe be to thee, Bethsaida: for if the miracles had been done in Tyree and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while agone repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. Therefore it shall be easier for Tyre, and Sidon, at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capternum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. He that heareth you, heareth me: and he that despiseth you, despiseth me: and he that depiseth me, despiseth him that sent me. And the seventy turned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subdued to us through thy Name. (Luke 10:1–42)
- Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? and are not his days as the days of an hireling? As a servant longeth for the shadow, and an hireling looketh for the end of his work, So have I had as an inheritance the mouths of vanity, and painful nights have been appointed unto me. If I laid me down, I said, When shall I arise? And measuring the evening, I am even full with tossing to and fro unto the dawning of the day. My flesh is clothed with worms and filthiness of the dust: my skin is rent, and become horrible. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they are spent without hope. Remember that my life is but a wind, and that mine eye shall not return to see pleasure. They eye that hath seen me, shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon me, and I shall be no longer. As the cloud vanisheth and goeth away, so that he that goeth down to the grave, shall come up no more. He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him anymore. (Job 7:1–10)