Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 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.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
—Luke 10:38-42 [emphasis mine]
This is such basic stuff, but I'm still in need of the reminder. Nothing particularly complicated or profound about it—it's simply true. And there's not a thing wrong with serving itself; the problem is in being distracted with it, and thereafter, in using it as a measuring stick for reality and for others. The same problem can arise with any distraction, I think.
Yet serving is an easy distraction to see in my own life. I'm tempted to put the word inside quotation marks, because much of what I get distracted with isn't really serving in the truest sense—I'm often at least as preoccupied with making things the way I want them to be in the service of others.
Just as the good portion will not be taken away from Mary, it is available to Martha, and to me. And the good portion is much more substantive than some kind of starry-eyed daydreaming about Jesus and/or spiritual things. Mary is with Jesus—relating to Him, being challenged by Him and loved by Him, listening to Him and responding to Him, and, perhaps most telling of all, submitting to Him. He isn't an idea or an ideal; Mary is bringing her presence into His. There are a great many other things we can do, but this one thing is necessary.