A sermon on intimacy with God by Rob McCorkle gave me a new perspective on the sharp contrast between Mary and Martha.
Mary "sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said" (Luke 10:39). The word "sat" in the Greek is used only this once and means to be pressed up against as though she is leaning in to hear what Jesus was saying.
I like to think of that when I'm reading scripture. I'm listening to every word, and it often means I'm writing down a verse in my notebook that I want to understand better or that I want to remember. By writing, I notice every word and often new insights come as I write.
"But Martha was distracted" (vs. 40). The word "distracted" in the Greek is also used only this one time. It means "to be dragged around." At times, that describes my thoughts when I sit down to read the Bible. Pressing duties, emails, phone calls to be made, mind wandering of all kinds--all of these can seek to drag my attention away from what I'm reading.
Mary sat quietly at Jesus' feet, while Martha allowed her mind to be distracted. Perhaps Martha could have overheard Jesus as she prepared the meal, but her mind would not have been fully engaged, fully intent on His Words. Her way of listening was unsatisfactory to Jesus. He knew Martha's actions indicated she failed to treasure His Words.
Dear Jesus, help me to treasure Your Words enough to ignore distractions and sit quietly at Your feet when I open my Bible.
"I wait quietly before God" (Psalm 62:1 NLT).
"Set your minds on things above" (Colossians 3:1).