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Prime time

It is important to know what time it is.  No one recognizes this more (to the point of obsession), than we do today.  I stopped wearing a watch years ago because there was no need for one --- clocks are everywhere!  We have them in our cars, on our computers, phones, televisions, etc.  There are not many places that you go and not know what time it is.

However, it’s possible to know what time it is according to the clock and not know what time it is in life.  That’s what the familiar story of Jesus’ visit to two sisters who lived in Bethany (Martha and Mary), is about (Luke 10:38-42).  You remember that Martha wanted Mary to help her with the “preparations” (a meal perhaps), while Mary wanted to sit at the feet of Jesus while He taught.  The sisters were at an impasse and Martha appealed to Jesus to arbitrate.

At first blush, Jesus’ answer is surprising.  We might have expected Him to refuse to get involved or to give some diplomatic answer that didn’t come down on either side --- but He didn’t.  Instead, He commended Mary for choosing “what is better,” (v. 42).  This is all the more surprising since Luke singled out Martha as the one who “opened her home to Him,” (v. 38).  Furthermore, Jesus doesn’t just give His approval to Mary’s choice, He chides His host for being “worried and upset about many things,” (v. 41).  All of this would suggest that this issue that prompted the sisters’ dispute was too important not to be directly addressed.

Ultimately, the tension between the sisters had to do with time, specifically, knowing what time it was.  I’m sure Martha wasn’t against people sitting at the feet of Jesus and more than Mary was against the practice of hospitality.  No, their concerns were about whether that moment was the right time for those things.  Their argument was about what it was time for --- sitting at His feet or setting the table? 

Since Jesus was there and He was teaching, it was time to listen and learn.  There would be time for the making preparations later, but Mary was correct in her assessment and Jesus defended her choice.  Furthermore, His words to Martha there suggest that if she would join Mary to listen and learn, the end result would be that she could approach her activities with a calm she presently didn’t possess. 

From this we should learn what’s actually involved in telling time.  It isn’t about possessing the skill set to locate the sun and approximate the time or the abillity to read a clock; it’s about knowing whose we are and what we should be doing.  Specifically, it’s about recognizing that the time we spend sitting at the feet of Jesus (i.e., through time in Scripture and prayer), is prime time.    In many ways, it is the most important time we have since it fuels everything else we do.   Yet so many times with our busy schedules and crowded lives, this is the first thing to go when we get “busy.”  The result:  we end up like Martha - “worried and upset about so many things.”  (Luke's placing of this story right before he shows us Jesus teaching the disciples to pray hardly seems incidental).  We fail to understand that whatever time we put into our time with God will more than come back to us through clarity, peace, and contentment that will enable us to be more effective in whatever we do. 

We don’t have time not to spend time sitting at the feet of our Lord!
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