Luke 10:41-42, “Martha, Martha, you are fretting and worrying about so many things! But there is only one thing that is essential. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it won’t be taken from her.”
Can’t we all place ourselves in Martha’s position? Couldn’t we all insert our names into the correction offered by Jesus? What is Jesus saying to Martha’s frenetic and distracted situation and lifestyle? Mary has chosen the good portion – what is essential – but Martha chose something else.
We live in an age of busyness. We are all busy, busy, busy, and we never seem to have enough time. Professor Bruce Hindmarsh calls busyness “moral laziness.” This sounds rather harsh, but give attention to his reasoning, “Busyness is moral laziness because it is often a statement of our self-importance and our excuse to be inattentive to people . . . But God has given us just enough time to do what we need to do moment by moment to respond to him. And his grace is there; it is eternally present. Every moment is a sacrament where time touches eternity and there is exactly enough time to do what God has called us to do.” Everyone is busy, and there are often good reasons to be busy – but who are we living for? who are we testifying to? and who is the author of our days?
According to Professor Hindmarsh’s reasoning, time has an ethical, as well as, spiritual value to it. This begs the question? Is the Lord concerned with how His people spend their time? According to Leviticus 23, the answer is yes.
Leviticus 23 details the festival seasons of the Lord. Beginning with Passover in the Spring, and ending with Sukkot in the Fall, the seasons of the Lord show us how to make time holy – or set apart. These seasons are called – מוֹעֲדִים – often translated as “appointed times” or “designated time.” These “designated times” can be seasons of rest, joy, or even times of atonement.
Why does the Lord designate time?
The Torah of Moses created distinctions on numerous levels, but these distinctions were not to causes us to become arrogant or haughty, rather, to demonstrate who the Lord of our life is. The Lord, by the Torah, not only provides a normative standard for our conduct – but also for our time. Why? The feasts of the Lord are called “Sabbaths,” or times to rest. How can time become an ethical issue?
First, that the Lord created “designated time” demonstrates that rest is an ethical issue – why – because the Lord Himself rested. The normative standard is a call to rest. The existential motive is our response in obedience to His standard to rest by resting ourselves. Finally, the teleological witness is our response by creating an environment where others can rest.
מוֹעֲדִים, or “appointed time,” comes from the verb root, עֵד, meaning “witness.” What is it that we are a “witness” of by honoring the Lord’s appointed times? The Sovereignty of the Living God. Still, this root, עֵד, also tells us how we demonstrate this witness: 1) in the עֵדָה, or in our “congregation” – as we sanctify our time in response to the Lord, 2) with our עֵדוּת, or “testimony” of who He is and what He has done for us. We find that our “witness” is a triad: 1) time, 2) assembly, 3) and testimony; and each of these speak to “life” itself.
This was the heart of the correction that Jesus gave Martha: How are you spending your time? Who are you honoring with your time? Mary has chosen the good portion – what is essential – but Martha chose something else. Martha was trying to demonstrate how important and how essential she was, even in her devotional serving. Yet, Mary demonstrated how important and how essential Yeshua/Jesus is.
How we spend our time, and how we designate our time also reveals something of vital importance – who we are betrothed to. The root עֵד, referenced above, can be conjugated into another verb יָעַד, meaning “to betroth.”
“I will betroth you to Me forever – yes, I will betroth you to Me with righteousness, justice, lovingkindness, and mercy. I will betroth you to Me with faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord” (Hos. 2:19-20).
How we spend our time shows who we are betrothed to – whether honoring his times and seasons, or pausing just to sit in the quiet with the Lord – the appointed times demonstrate His love and faithfulness for us, and our love and faithfulness to Him. The Lord provides so much time for us each day, week, and year; and He only asks for a small portion of it to be dedicated to Him.
What, or who, are you pursuing with your time, and why?
Be well. Shalom.