Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Hospitality (02/07/05)
TITLE: Choose the Good Part
By Cheri Hardaway
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Showing friendly care and concern for a guest is known as hospitality. As Christians, men and women alike are commanded to be hospitable, though women seem to be much more troubled about the best way to fulfill that command. Take, for example, the idea of hosting a dinner party: A man might think, “No problem; order pizza and turn on the ball game! Sounds like a good time.” Whereas, a woman’s first thoughts will probably be along these lines: “What’s the theme? How many guests? How formal?”
Why is this? Martha Stewart has set the trend for “perfect party planners.” Compelled to compare, women feel they must measure up, if their hospitality is going to please people. Tune in to their world: “I will need to have the right lighting, tasteful table coverings, and perfect place cards at my party. Will the hors d’oeuvres properly prepare palates for my mouth-watering meal and the delectable dessert to follow? And drinks – they should be delicious. A creative centerpiece stimulates conversation, breaking the ice and putting guests at ease.” No small feat!
Martha’s have existed since the beginning of time. Scripture describes another “perfect party planning” Martha in the book of Luke. Martha welcomed Jesus into her home, her honored guest. She ran hither and yon, to and fro, making sure every detail was perfect for her special friend. Her heart was set to please and serve this visitor in her home. Finally, frazzled and frustrated, she grumbled to Jesus about her sister, Mary, who merely sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word, while Martha worked herself silly.
“And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her,’” – Luke 10:41&42 (NKJV).
This answer is significant. Martha was certainly exercising hospitality, as the Word commands, yet the Lord gently rebuked her. Martha needed to recognize that Mary was also practicing hospitality by being attentive to the person and words of their guest. Hospitality must then require balance between the internal and the external, a meeting of both physical and emotional needs; one without the other is incomplete.
Hospitality also has a spiritual aspect. If hospitality is showing care and concern for a guest in our home, what should we do for the One living in our hearts? A hospitable heart is a surrendered heart, one that allows Jesus to be Lord, as well as Savior. If we are to be hospitable to the Lord, we cannot shut him out of any part of our heart or life. “Welcome Home,” a song written by contemporary Christian music artist Shaun Groves, creates a nice word picture of relational intimacy that shows hospitality to the Lord. Here are some of the lyrics:
“Welcome to this heart of mine, I’ve buried under prideful vines; grown to hide the mess I’ve made inside of me; come decorate, Lord. Open up the creaking door, and walk upon the dusty floor; scrape away the guilty stains, until no sin or shame remains. Spread Your love upon the walls, and occupy the empty halls, until the man I am has faded, no more doors are barricaded.
“Take a seat, pull up a chair; forgive me for the disrepair, and the souvenirs from floor to ceiling, gathered on my search for meaning; every closet’s filled with clutter, messes yet to be discovered.
“Come inside this heart of mine, it’s not my own. Make it home. Come and take this heart and make it all Your own. Welcome home.”
If Martha and Mary’s home had been like the one described in the song, they might have seemed inhospitable, because it would be hard to feel comfortable and cared for in those surroundings. Likewise, corrupted by sin, our hearts must be sanctified and cleansed with the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:26), making them inhabitable for the Holy Spirit. By letting Him live in us and clean us up, we are choosing the good part that cannot be taken away, and we are making ourselves better able to minister the gift of hospitality to others; we will no longer be distracted with worries and troubles that keep us from being available to God for His purposes. We will be able to hear His voice as He instructs us in how to show care and concern for others.
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