As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42, NIV
I’ve always felt like a Martha, and because of that, books that praise Mary in their titles have left me feeling defensive. “Couldn’t Mary have helped her sister and then they BOTH could have sat and listened together?”
When I read this story my heart goes out to Martha. Perhaps, like me, she was addicted to the approval of others, and relished the praise received from authority figures. I watch as an honored guest and friend graced her home and understand why she wants everything to be perfect: clean, inviting, pristine, lovely, filling, tasty… these are her synonyms for hospitality.
And yet, Jesus responds to her request (which was quite possibly passive aggressive, if not at least frustrated) with the following:
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
The Martha inside of me is crushed. I’ve been corrected in front of my sister and told I’ve chosen incorrectly. Obviously if Mary has chosen what is better, I’ve chosen wrong. And that’s the very word I am deathly afraid to hear: WRONG.
If I’m honest with myself I know that my greatest desire is to hear Him say, “Ginger has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” I need the affirmation and approval, I’m addicted.
But by focusing in on better or wrong, I have missed His point completely.
Hospitality within your home and heart should not leave you upset and worried about many things. There has been one purpose, one goal all along. Sh’ma: Love God. Love Others.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40, NIV
Jesus desired for Martha to rest in His presence rather than worry about ironing napkins. He desires for me to rest in Him rather than stressing about menus and seating. In that instance I make hospitality about me, rather than my guest.
During my trip to Israel last spring, we had the unique opportunity to witness hospitality in the middle of a desert. We walked a great distance down a long dirt road, not really knowing where our final destination might be.
As we approached a small cluster of homes, our group of fifty Americans was greeted by scores of children who led us to the Matriarch of their large family. We were welcomed by the Bedouins and encouraged to sit in an open air shelter upon scores of rugs. The family received us and shared cups of hot tea and prepared bread on a fire before us. They fed fifty strangers. I didn’t witness scrambling or arguing from the women serving us. The smiles on their faces were constant. They appeared honored to receive us rather than imposed upon by our presence. We left considering how willingly we open our homes and hearts.
My fear of getting it “wrong” often keeps me from the one thing that is needed… but I don’t intend to stay that way. My hope is to move toward an open door and open heart policy.
Following and learning,