But are all the things that we 'think we need to do' really things that we need to spend time on?
Think back to Social Studies class back in first grade. There's one major lesson that Social Studies teaches. (Besides that Social Studies is way easier than Math and Spelling.) There is a difference between Needs and Wants.
Needs are things that you need in order to live on this earth. Wants are things you could live without.
When we apply that principle to how we spend time, what are the things that we NEED to spend time on?
For starters, we need to spend time taking care of our basic human needs: Food, clothing, shelter, and sleep. After a long exercise we need to spend time drinking some water. A few times a day, we need to eat meals. We need to sleep. We need to spend time putting on clothing. (Although, how much time we need to spend deciding on which outfit to wear is debatable...)
Then, in order to have these basics needs met, it's true that we need to spend time making money, don't we? This is why we spend time working. 40 hours a week. 50 hours a week. Maybe more. If it is a career job, then we are going to need to spend even more time working than that!
And you might say that we need to spend time on maintenance tasks. By that I mean tasks that directly affect those first two needs. We need to go to the grocery store in order to buy food. We need to install a new kitchen faucet, because the old one spurts out water which we need to drink. We need to spend time fixing a flat tire on the car to make it to work in the morning.
And one of the ways that we perform maintenance, is really something that deserves a category of it's own: Relaxing. We need to spend time relaxing in order to rejuvenate for working for money for basics needs. This logic might explain why we watch old reruns of Saved by the Bell; why we go relaxing at the beach; why we nestle up to a good book. Although, at times this logic can become cyclical: “I need to spend time drinking this Samuel Adams so that I can take a break, relax my mind, and get ready for working hard to make money to buy food to eat and things to drink." (like Samuel Adams.)
Brothers and sisters, I'm not here to argue . Certainly, we need to spend time doing these things in order to live on this earth.
Why then does Jesus say what he says to Martha? Listen again: “One thing is necessary...what Mary has chosen.” Listening to my Word.
Doesn't that seem to fly in the face of everything we just talked about?
Perhaps we need to go back to Social Studies. The social studies book talks about what is necessary for earthly life. Earthly life that lasts 60-70 years if we have the strength. But what the average Social Studies book from Houghton Mifflin forgets to mention is that all of these 'earthly needs” will be of no value in the next life! In fact, when it comes to getting into the next life, none of these things are necessary.
Not at all.
Spending time eating a Subway sandwich will not stop your soul from starving for the forgiveness found only in Jesus. Getting some sleep will not cause your mind to rest from the guilt of yesterday's sins. If you spent 60, 70, 80 hours a week at work trying to make money, even if you had a second job, you would not be able to buy yourself anything that lasts to eternity! Fixing the flat tire may get you to work, but it won't get you to heaven. The weekend at the boathouse may reenergize you physically for the week of work, but it won't reenergize your spirit with the message of sins forgiven, heaven won, and Jesus on your side for the rest of the week!!!
Brothers and sisters, Jesus speaks the truth. Spiritually speaking—eternally speaking---actually speaking, the only thing that we need to spend time doing is learning God's Word.
Think about why that's true.
In a children’s theater play that I saw once, there was a character called Time. Time was an actress dressed in black with a big clock necklace hanging from her neck. Time was a minor character, but made appearances on the stage every so often.
One time she came running across the stage as the narrator read, “Time is running by.” Another time she had wings on. As she flapped across the stage, the narrator read, “Time flew by.” Time even came onto the stage eating a banana, of which she took the peel and tossed it in front of her, only to be “slipping away.”
One thing she never did though was stop.
I bet that’s one thing you wish could happen. Time could stop! As busy people, that would be a pretty neat advantage! Then, we’d be able to get everything done in the day that we’d want to. Or we could stop time, watch an entire season of Survivor, and then go back to work refreshed!
The fact is that time doesn’t stop. It always keeps moving. It moves while we’re sleeping, while we’re working, while we’re playing, while we’re on Facebook! Time keeps moving.
Since it doesn’t stop, it is important to think about how best to spend our time!
In the lesson for today, Jesus teaches us how he would have us spend our time. Take a look at Luke 10:38-42. “38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.”
Back in my bachelor days, I didn't think that preparing dinner for a few guests took all that much preparation. I'd grab a bag of double cheeseburgers from McDonalds, rent a redbox, and wipe the crumbs off the couch. A grand total of 10 minutes, tops!
Then I got married.
Turns out, having guests over for dinner does take a lot more preparation time. We spend time cooking the meals ourselves. Which is, maybe, an hour process. First, we we spend time researching the right recipe in the recipe books. Then we spend time determining if we have the right food for the meal. Then, we spend time shopping. Then, we notice that the cupboards have a smudge on them so we need to clean the kitchen. And while we have the cleaning supplies out, we need to quickly clean the house. And not just the living room and kitchen area. We have to clean behind the closed doors, because “What if they want a tour of our two bedroom apartment's master bedroom?”
The point: Preparing a nice meal for a friend takes time. That is what Martha wanted to do! It's not so wrong. She wanted to prepare a nice meal for her friend! For Jesus, her Savior! Maybe, she was aware that he had no place to lay his head. (A theme from last week.) Maybe, she knew that he was tirelessly at work in his commitment of sharing God's Word. From other parts of Scriptures, we see that she understood that she owed everything to Him and perhaps she had hoped to give thanks to him by giving him the best five star restaurant treatment that she could.
But in order to do that, she was going to need, some help. An all-hands-on-deck type moment.
Fortunately for her, Martha had a sister. A sister called Mary. A sister, who, according to verse 39, sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.
You can almost feel the tension rising.
Perhaps Martha tried to make her sister aware that she needed help. Maybe, she walked by mixing batter in a bowl really loudly. Then, maybe she tried sighing really loudly from a distance. Maybe, she even dropped a bunch of pots and pans to mimic the frustration of a busy restaurant on a Friday night.
Finally, she makes her way into the living area. She waits for a chance and asks, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Could you tell her to help me!”
And certainly, in our hard working, go get 'em, busy all the time, always stuff to do, American attitude, Jesus' answer is flooring. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Is that how you expected Jesus to react? Let's rethink what happened.
Martha thought that she needed to spend her time doing all kinds of things. Cleaning, cooking, flower arranging, floor sweeing, table setting, Parcheesi preparring, general busy being in order to show Jesus a good meal of thanksgiving.
But Mary thought that something completely different needed to be done at that time, with the Lord of Heaven and earth at their house, She thought it was needed to spend time: Listening to what Jesus had to say.
When Martha questions Mary's choice, Jesus agrees with what Mary has chosen...but he goes farther than that. Look at what he says: Only one thing is needed. What Mary chose! Listening to my Word.
What about you? What do you think you need to spend time doing?
But God's Word also tells us how Jesus spent his time. How Jesus spent his time immersed in God's Word, perfectly following God's Word, in fact Jesus was God's Word! He spent time being kind, gentle, loving, and all of the things that were mentioned in Colossians.
Then, he spent time in an unfair courtroom. He spent time before a crowd of people shouting for his blood. He spent time hanging from a cross. He spent the last moments of his life's time on earth innocently!
There was never time better spent! Because Jesus spent this time dying on a cross for you! He spent time, three days in a grave, for you! He then spent 40 more days time appearing and reappearing to his disciples. Proof that time he spent suffering God's wrath for your sins of misplaced time management was accepted!
In other words, through faith in Jesus, brothers and sisters, you will not spend an eternal time in hell. You won't even spend any time there. You will spend all of our second life—alive! A life that does not end. A life where time stops! Where time ceases to exist! It is certain. Through faith in Jesus, you will spend your next life in the glorious gates of redemption. With the Lord!
Brothers and sisters, this is what we learn as we spend time studying God's Word!
The second reason time spent studying God's Word is necessary is because it strengthens our faith!
If you don't spend time eating breakfast you won't have as much strength to get through the day. It's a fact. You won't be able to concentrate as much. You'll be more tired out. You may not get as much work done as you want! It's why Tony the Tiger and the Trix Rabbit encourage us to eat breakfast!
The same is true with God's Word. If we don't spend time in it, how can we ever expect to get through this life with faith? To be truthful, you won't! Jesus said it this way, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful lest you fall!”
Instead, Jesus encourages us in today's lesson to cherish time in God's Word. To treat his Word like a well balanced breakfast. To treat it as food. To feed our souls so that we don't grow weaker, lose strength and fade away to spiritual death!
God's Word has more to offer than vitamins and minerals. God's Word contains the Holy Spirit! All powerful. God himself!
But isn't it important to do God's work as well? To go and share his love?
There are few plants outside our house. For a while, earlier this week, they weren't doing very well. I finally paid attention and spent some time watering them.
Guess what? Now they are blooming. Brilliant pinks, royal purples, and dazzling whites. They just needed to be fed in order to bloom.
It's the same things with us. We need to be fed God's Word in order to bloom with our actions. We need to read God's Word to know what those good deeds are that please God. We need to be in God's Word where the Holy Spirit dwells who gives us the strength and faith necessary to do these good deeds in a world full of hatred!
Brothers and sisters, there is nothing else necessary for us than to spend time in God's Word.
But let me warn you. Very soon, if not already, the devil, the world, and your sinful flesh are going to work hard to convince you that there are a host of things that are more important to spend time on than listening to God's Word!
Ignore them. They only spend time convincing you that time in God’s Word isn’t important at all, because it is the most important thing of all!
Brothers and sisters, spend time in God’s Word. Embrace the cross of time. Set aside time to be in your Bible. Set aside time to study it with other Christians. Remember how important it is and keep that in mind when you make your decisions on how to spend your time!
Blessings as you spend time in God’s Word this week.