Only One Thing is Needed

Christmas day 6

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered,“you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


  • Find a quiet place to spend time with Jesus. Silence your phone, take a deep breath and clear your mind of everything else.
  • Read Luke 10:38-42. Write Luke 10:41-42 in your journal, and underline the first half of verse 42: “Few things are needed. Really, only one thing is needed.”.

Only One Thing Is Needed

You know the story of Martha and Mary: the one in which Martha is doing all the work, Mary is sitting around chatting with Jesus, and then Jesus tells Martha that Mary is the one doing the good thing? Really?! If I were Martha, I might have had a good laugh before realizing He was serious.

Imagine staying up half the night cleaning before your in-laws arrive, but your husband opts to go to bed early, leaving you with the extra work. By morning, the house is spotless, your husband is cheerful and refreshed, but you’re mildly cranky and completely exhausted. Then imagine your in-laws show up, compare you to your fresh-faced husband, and rebuke you! After all your hard work! I would be indignant!

But isn’t that what Jesus did? He told his well-intentioned friend, “Martha, Martha… you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42).

Jesus knew Martha’s heart; He knew exactly what she needed. Jesus was not being unkind or ungrateful, but compassionate. He was releasing Martha from her mundane earthly burdens and giving his dear friend an invitation to rest and enjoy His peace. You are Jesus’s dearly loved friend too. He has not called you to be a workhorse, bearing all that you possibly can handle. Don’t look to the world around you and take on burdens God never intended. Instead, take the time to sit at your Savior’s feet, trusting Him to “establish the work of [your] hands,” and make your best efforts fruitful (Psalm 90:17).

In just a couple weeks, presents and bows will litter your clean house, mounds of dirty dishes will replace your delicious dinner, and your beautiful decorations will return to their boxes. However, if you spend extra time with your God and with the people He has given you to love, that investment will never be taken away.

Jesus urges us: “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Taking quiet time to nourish your soul and cultivate a relationship with Jesus should be your first priority, not your last.

Are you drawing near to Jesus this season, finding rest for your soul, growing in gentleness and humility? Spend time in prayer and God’s Word to find out what His plan is for your family in this season. He wants you to create Christmas memories to be cherished for years, and He can make it happen with ease. He is God. All he needs from you is your faithfulness, not 18 hour days of chaos nor every last dollar in your checking account. He knows exactly how to bless you and your family, but you first must let go of your plans and expectations to submit to His.

Questions to Ponder

  • Are you taking the time to sit at the feet of your Savior? If not, what is getting in the way?
  • Pray that God will help you to overcome any obstacles that are robbing you of your peace or your time with your Jesus.
  • Prayerfully plan daily quiet time with God. See where it fits into your schedule. Set an alarm if you need to, or plan a 30-minute show or activity for you children. Be intentional about silencing distractions or interruptions.

Faith-Filled Idea

  • What if you did things differently this year? Lower your standards a bit, re-prioritize your tasks, put Jesus and relationships first, and ignore everything else. Delegate. Make cooking and cleaning a family affair. Praise and reward everyone for completing the tasks together. Lay your burdens and expectations at the cross to make December a month of living like God’s chosen people. Live like someone who is holy and dearly loved, someone whose primary purpose is to love the God you serve and help those around do the same.
  • Here’s an idea. We’re about halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you’re like me, your to-do list is still a mile long. Now is a great time to examine your goals and priorities to make sure you are focusing on what matters most. If you haven’t spent time with Jesus or taught your children about our Savior, start now. This is what I want you to do:
    • Write a list of everything you have to do before Christmas.
    • Examine each item to determine what your underlying motivation is. Perfection? Pride? Who are you actually serving: your Savior, your guests, or yourself?
    • Cross everything off your list that does not serve Jesus or bring His peace and joy to your home. Does the house have to be spotless?
    • Can you pare down your Christmas menu or buy a pie from a store this year? Let your children and husband wrap the gifts and accept that they may not look great.
    • Replace each of the extraneous tasks you just crossed with soul-filling quiet time or family time. You may be able or tempted to squeeze those extra crossed-off tasks into your downtime, but don’t do it! God was speaking to you, telling you how to find rest. Fill that time with something eternal.

Christmas 6 graphic

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Heather Doolittle
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9 Comments on “Only One Thing is Needed”

  1. This study is one I should read weekly this time of year!! I definitely need the reminder 🙂 I like how you say, “He wants you to create Christmas memories to be cherished for years, and He can make it happen with ease.” Thank you Heather!

  2. This is exactly what I have been researching this week: The Urgent Versus The Important, otherwise known as The Eisenhower Box. It’s a very practical time management skill used in the workplace, but how can we apply this as moms? I love the quotation. I hadn’t heard of von Goethe, so I had to look him up. Interesting man. Thanks, Heather!

  3. Thank you Heather! I love the part about time spent with Jesus is an investment that can never be taken away! Such a wise nugget there and one that we can never be reminded of enough!!

  4. I am so thankful for this Bible study Heather! What a gift it is to be able to be encouraged to spend time with Jesus even in the midst of our business! He always leaves us feeling more at peace and able to accomplish so much more had we not spent time with Him!

    1. Thank you, Deb! I completely agre- we are so blessed to have direct access to Jesus’s peace and rest through prayer and quiet time.

  5. So so goooooooood!!! This is amazing. Being intentional about putting Christ first is something that I am really trying to put first in this season and the fruits are Ten fold. I feel God’s presence daily and somehow all things that are important to me have magically been able to happen stress free. The Lord rewards those who are obedient to him. I love love love the check list idea. Beautiful. Thank you so much, such an important lesson. Humbling ourselves and knowing we CAN’T and shouldn’t do it all is very eye opening. I love love love to do all things Christmas, food, decorate, activities but no super human can do it all without being overextended and missing out on what’s important. Christ.

    1. Thank you, Brandi! This is an area that I struggle with. While writing this article, God has taught me to use my time wisely, let go of my burdens, and make spending time with my Savior a priority. It’s still a work in progress though. I have been so blessed by what God is teaching me, and I pray that it will help others too!

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