Practicing Hospitality ~ What is it anyway?
I've been thinking about the concept of practicing hospitality. What is Biblical hospitality?
Over the years I've come across many people who try to put hospitality in a box. Basically, the message that they send is that hospitality is having people over to your home or church and serving them. I always picture Martha doting around at a gathering, making sure everyone's needs are taken care of.
But didn't Jesus say that Mary chose the "good part", to "listen to His word?" I picture myself more like Mary. At church functions, the last thing I want to do is dote around serving food and cleaning it all up. Actually, I feel lost in that area. It's just not me. Do we need Martha's? Absolutely! Nothing (in the physical) would get done if we only had Mary's. Everyone would have to grab a sub sandwich!
I am a Mary. I sit at the feet of Jesus (the Word) and absorb all I can. When it comes time to serve others, I have a tendency to minister in my gifting and that is exhortation. (You can read about the spiritual gift of exhortation here.) Most times what happens is we have an event/dinner and I end up spending 80% of my time ministering to one person out of God's Word. The other 20% of my time is practicing the Biblical meaning of hospitality. So what is that?
Hospitality is much broader than what people give it credit for. The Greek word for hospitality is philoxenos and it means "hospitable, generous to guests." It comes from two different words. The first one is philos which means "friendly." The second is xenos which means "a foreigner or stranger." Let's put them together: being friendly and or generous to guests and or strangers.
So, the Biblical definition of being hospitable is being generous and friendly to guests particularly strangers. That may or may not include food. That may or may not be in your home. That may or may not be in your church. That may or may not be in the bathroom at WalMart!
My husband is always cracking up at me. It never fails when I go into a public restroom I always come out with a "friend." It not a real "friend" but someone I was able to encourage, minister to, or talk to in some way. Many times over people have unloaded some issue from their lives into my listening ear and I, in turn, make them feel loved by God in some way. That is hospitality to strangers. That is also exhortation.
For all of you Marthas out there, thank you from all of us Marys. Thank you for your serving and hospitality. For all of you Marys out there, thank you for your serving and hospitality as well! Both are needed. Both are appreciated.
How do you practice hospitality? When you examine it, do you see your other spiritual gifts surfacing?