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Session 23

Mary and Martha

Read: Luke 10:38-42

To-do lists. We all have them and we all spend quite a bit of time attempting to strike things off of them. There’s nothing wrong with that, things absolutely need to get done, and the quicker and more efficiently the better. However, I’ve found that my to-do list (or lists, as I usually have more than one going on at a time) can hinder my ability to hear God’s voice if I let it take priority over my relationship with Him.

In Luke 10 we find Jesus meeting Mary and Martha, the sisters to Lazarus. Martha, though hospitable in opening her home to Jesus, soon shows how her to-do list overwhelms her relationship with Him. In verse 40 the ESV translation says, “Martha was distracted with much serving” and the HCSB says, “Martha was distracted by her many tasks” (italics added). This is a struggle for me, and I’m certain it has, at some point, been a struggle for you also. How often do we forget to spend time with the Lord one day because we simply “didn’t have enough time” or we were so busy from the time we rolled out of bed in the morning to the time we fell into it that night? It may have only happened to you once in your life, but I promise it’s happened, and I promise that – though it may have been subtle and unnoticeable – in some way it altered your ability to hear God’s voice.

In verses 41 and 42 Jesus explains to Martha that only one thing is needed, and that is a relationship with Him; in this particular case, taking the time to sit at His feet and just spend time listening to Him. He points out that “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” It is our relationship with God that helps us to hear Him well and live well for His glory, not our ability to get everything that’s on our to-do lists done.


1. Take stock of your to-do lists. Is there anything that really competes with your time with the Lord that can come off of them? In other words, what unnecessary tasks can you eliminate in order to free yourself up to spend more (or more fulfilling) time with Him?

2. Look inward: are there particular seasons of life in which you seem to let your to-do lists take precedence? For instance, if you’re a student, do your to-do lists become priority when you’re in school versus summer or break times? If you’re a mother, do the family to-do’s ever take precedence over your relationship with the Lord? Search out these trends and pray against them, asking the Lord to help you keep Him in priority over everything else.

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