The Mary/Martha story of verses 38-42, should be read hand-in-hand with Luke 10:1-20. I include a few select verses below.
The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. 2 These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. 3 Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. . . . 9 Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’ . . . 16 Then he said to the disciples, “Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me. And anyone who rejects me is rejecting God, who sent me.”In this passage, Jesus is telling his followers to go and do things for him. He has been teaching them; but now, rather than more sitting at his feet to learn from him, he sends them out to do his work. They are to be the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus to the places to which Jesus will soon travel.
17 When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” (NLT)
You and I need both. We need to sit at Jesus' feet and be in his presence. We need to go and take his presence to the world. The key is listening and being sure that we are indeed going and doing the work that he has given us to do. We do not want to be doing busy work or someone else's work. To be sure of this we must first stay in the presence of Jesus to hear his voice and receive his direction. Then, we must go and take his presence with us.
1 (Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality 2006, 48-51)
Scazzero, Peter. Daily Office: Remembering God's Presence Throughout The Day. Barrington: Willow Creek Resources, 2008.
—. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006.