Hospitality vs. Entertaining

Leslie Millet: Women's Ministry Leader

If you are a woman and you have been in the Kingdom for any length of time, then you know the story of Martha and Mary found in Luke 10:38. Martha opened her home to Jesus, but as Jesus noted, she was worried and distracted by many things.  However, Mary chose what was better; she sat and listened to Jesus.

First, let me give Martha some encouragement. Martha did open her home to Jesus, and that is not an easy task!  I am sure that he had a lot of people traveling with him, and she chose to welcome them all into her home.  But, Martha was focused on the preparations and the presentations, decorations, cleaning up.  Seems reasonable, right? Well, not to Jesus!

Being hospitable is about talking, ministering, and focusing on people. The common thread about these descriptions is "people".  Hospitality is about loving people.  The focus on hospitality is to minister to another soul, to care for them and to serve, to meet a soul’s need; to care for the ones in your home.

Now entertaining is something different, this seems to have been Martha's approach.  Entertaining is a chance to demonstrate your home, your decorating, your cooking and presentation.  The focus on entertaining is to impress, to get everything "just right".

When you go to a nice restaurant you’re not going for the hospitality, you’re going for the presentation of the food, the service and the decor.

Similarly, if we are mostly focused on the presentation of the food, how the home looks or how all of the details are coming together perfectly, instead of those who are in our home then in face we are entertaining.

Hospitality seeks to minister to the people that are there.    It is “I am interested in You".

Entertaining can be based on a false ideal.  We'll have them over when we feel more comfortable, or when we get a bigger place, or even when we have a nicer decor, nicer dishes.  It's okay for people to see you when you’re not all together.  Of course we can and need to be concerned with the cleanliness of our home, making a beautiful table, having a guest room prepared or preparing a delicious meal, all of those things are very encouraging to me, but the point is—people first.  Remember hospitality puts away pride!

Romans 12 says to pursue hospitality.  I have found with Tony and my busy life, as well as trying to have meals together as a family, this is very challenging and so will take planning.

One idea I am trying to implement is to have a night in our schedule that is specifically ‘Hospitality Night’.  This means that Tony and I can invite a couple or a family over on that night. This helps ensure that our family is having meals together so that we can connect emotionally during the week, but also that as a family were learning to pursue hospitality, as hospitality helps those being served but also ourselves.  Additionally, the kids learn to give to visitors, set the table, help prepare meals, play and serve\take care of the visitors kids etc., you get the idea.

What about the unexpected guest?  This can throw me for a curve ball, if there is no food in the house. So here is a suggestion for when people come over unexpectedly - stocked with inexpensive things that are only for hospitality! The key to this is not eating it beforehand!  Hide it from your kids or your husband for that matter— smile! What does hospitality teach us?

* Unconditional love- sometimes you’re meeting needs of needy people. Your love will grow.

* Compassion - it teaches us about different types of people, as you’re opening your home and hearing their stories.

Finally, God will bless you, and who doesn't want to be blessed?  For God says, it is more blessed to give then to receive.