The Image of Hospitality
The image of hospitality isn’t the glossy spreads on magazines or the perfectly decorated living room. The image of hospitality isn’t your Instagram feed, where it’s surprising friends with a sunny afternoon picnic or having a celebration on the beach. Hospitality doesn’t pursue glamor or attention.
Its priority is not perfection – it is to care and serve another person.
That’s why the contrasting images of hospitality in Luke 10 create such a powerful example. Martha and Mary are sisters who welcome Jesus and their disciples into their home. Yet, once Jesus and the disciples are there, they had different responses:
“Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving.” (Luke 10:38-40, English Standard Version)
Both women’s actions and motivations stem from wanting to care and respect Jesus. Martha wanted to be the perfect hostess and serve the guests properly. Mary defied cultural expectations here and cared for Jesus by sitting by his feet because she wanted to hear everything He said.
Still, Jesus corrects Martha by saying that Mary chose wisely in wanting to be at His feet.
If you’re like me and want to make things perfect for guests, we may be tempted to say that sitting there isn’t right! There’s so much else to do to make their time with us better. We need to have clean rooms and plenty of food. The list goes on, but the reality remains – there is a guest or a person in need that we have the opportunity to serve.
Sometimes, the best way to care for someone is simply to invite them in and to focus on them. Hospitality is focusing on what they need and nothing else.
When it comes to hospitality, let’s focus on serving others and not our own image.