How wonderful would it be to hear Jesus say this of you, beloved? Imagine yourself for a moment, that you are in this conversation, in this situation. Imagine living in a society and in an era in which women were not considered equal to men (though since creation God has equally loved male and female, and created male and female in His image, with the same capacity for knowing Him.). Imagine further living in a society where to educate a woman seemed as foolish as training your dog to do complex algebraic equations.
As you hear that wonderful voice saying of you “she chose the good portion that will not be taken away from her” imagine realizing that for the first time in a long time you overcame what easily distracts you from knowing God and honoring Him as God! Imagine realizing that this was not your own strength, you feel deep down it was only possible because Jesus’s words of eternal life have percolated in your soul and made you feel alive for the first time! Imagine not wanting to let go of that, wanting to go on eating the Bread of Life…
This is what Mary did, as she sat at Jesus’ feet, listening intently. We too can listen intently as we read or hear Scripture.
40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”Luke 10:40-42
Other women have since made this choice. Take Lydia, the first believer in Macadonia (Acts 16:6-40). Paul was led by the Spirit to that area, and he and his companions found a group of women assembled. Lydia was a worshipper of God, yet not according truth. Upon hearing “the things spoken by Paul” the Lord “opened her heart to respond”!
He still does this in our hearts, as we read and hear Scripture.
What a wonderful testimony to us women nowadays, that as the gospel broke forth and local churches were formed, women were never considered second-rate members. Yet, God does not undo the differences between male and female; while we have the calling to choose this good portion, we cannot choose to be elders/pastors; the Spirit does not undo what was inspired in Titus (and other passages).
Like Lydia, we can assemble others, inviting them into our lives, and into the fellowship we enjoy in our local churches. Like Lydia, we can use our time and resources to serve our local church. Like Lydia we can encourage one another, encourage our elders, and open our home and offer hospitality even when not according to a grand schedule (see verse 40). Like Lydia, our faith will spill out in works of faith, love, and hope.
More than 40 generations before Mary or Lydia, David made beautiful declarations of this very same sentiment. Read Psalm 27! Now in ‘choosing the good portion’ I do not mean to imply that these are amazing people, or that they were on a different level somehow. David may have been a prophet and a king, but he had also once been a shepherd, an outcast, his father thought very little of him. His father and mother, he says, had forsaken him.
And further, David struggled with sin. This was not a hidden inward battle; he stole another man’s wife, committed adultery and sent the husband to his death. He acted out of impure motives often. He would not stick to God’s pattern for family living, but took too many wives, and as if all those wives were not enough he took concubines as well. (These were not “the good portion.”)
David also repented, often; “Pardon my iniquity, for it is great…Turn to me and be gracious to me…bring me out of my distresses…forgive all my sins…I wait for You.” (Psalm 25). To say that he too chose the good portion is not to say he was perfect. But his heart was alive to that desire all of God’s people share:
One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple.”Psalm 27:4
What would it look like, in this era, to live out this desire, to choose the good portion?
It begins by believing; He has spoken, do you believe? When some followers began grumbling and left off following, Jesus asked His closest disciples whether they wanted to leave also. Can you resonate with Peter’s response: “You have words of eternal life, where else would I go?!”
Sometimes we inwardly say “I’ll follow You, where else would I go?” but we forget about listening, we find it hard to sit at His feet and learn. Read? Study? Meditate? Memorize? Muse upon Your Words? Direct my gaze for more than a moment? Read just Scripture, rather than devotionals referencing only scattered verses?
He says “My words are spirit and life.” Do you believe this with your whole being?
Choosing the Good Portion leads to…
It begins by believing, and continues with in person, face to face, generational, discipleship and fellowship. (If you’ve not read through Titus recently, now is the time beloved).
Do not limit your ‘fellowship list’ to “my friends” or to “a small group of similar life stage only…” There were no “youth groups” or “college and career” or “singles” or “old saints” classes in the early church. American culture likes to separate everyone by age, starting at six weeks old; but God wants the church to remain a family in which all the generations benefit from each other’s presence.
It continues mostly by the church learning to live together under the Word. The Word must be shared, not kept at home tucked away. Our conversations should flow from hearts filled with His Word, from lips that are never found without His truth and goodness and hesed. In this way we can more readily encourage and admonish one another to leave off of the milk drinking days and enjoy the meaty days.
Journal through these passages:
Romans 15:13-14; Hebrews 5:11-14;
1 Peter 2:1-5; 2 Peter 3:14-18;
1 Timothy 6:20-21; 2 Timothy 2:14-19, 3:14-17
There is much that could still be said, but I will end today with this encouragement–the Christian life is meant to be lived together. Yes, I thoroughly enjoy my private worship; I pray without ceasing throughout my day. I muse upon passages I’ve memorized. I journal, and periodically practice all the spiritual disciplines. I also enjoy our family worship. I love reading through the catechisms with my children, and alone; and memorizing passages together, and singing hymns throughout our days together.
Yet, it is not enough. We need our other members, we need the local church. We are members of one another (Romans 12:4-5). As members of one another we do not flit in and out of each other’s lives, we take our membership vows seriously, we let our yes be truly yes.
There is much joy in pressing on together–pursuing God and godliness together, using our gifts in serving one another as we all eagerly await Christ’s return! Let us choose the good portion together!
Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.2 Timothy 2:22
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash