In the south one thing I think we all pride ourselves in is hospitality. I have been from one side of the United States to the other throughout my adulthood. I have even been as far east as Africa and as far south as Mexico! I have seen many different cultures and different ways people show hospitality, but I can honestly say southern hospitality is as welcoming as it can possibly get! It is a way of life and ultimately culture to us! It is in the way we raise our children to say ma’am and sir! It is in the way we never meet a stranger! It is in the way we open our house to guests and prepare meals for them like no other! It is the way we “do” for others, expecting nothing in return! Ultimately, it is in how we show those around us that we respect, love, and appreciate them.
The way we show southern hospitality reminded me a lot of how Martha showed hospitality toward Jesus and his disciples in the book of Luke. Martha was so excited to know that they were in town and had invited them into her home in an effort to show them some good ole southern hospitality! Scripture says, “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.“ Luke 10:38. Martha was so busy being a good hostess by getting supper ready and making sure everything was perfect for her guests when she noticed her sister Mary sitting at Jesus’s feet instead of helping. In her frustration, she turns to Jesus and says, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Luke 10:40. I am sure we have all felt that way in the busyness of trying to take care of our guests. It can be exhausting preparing for a crowd! And maybe we have even had a moment where we’ve seen the rest of our family gathered around our guest listening to all their stories and enjoying each other’s company! We may even feel frustrated like Martha did and want to fuss and complain about it. But next we see how Jesus quickly reminds Martha what is most important, and it is not the cooking! “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 10:41-42. You see, Mary realized that it was more important to spend time with the guest than it was to get things prepared for the guest. Jesus reminded Martha that spending time with Him was not just important, it was the most important thing that she could do!
We are reminded that priorities matter! Martha was so worried about getting the table set before dinner, but Jesus says the only thing that needed to be worried about was the time visiting. While being a good hostess is very important, we see in Martha’s story that even with good intentions, we can sometimes miss what’s most important. The time we spend building relationship far outweighs anything else we can spend time doing, and in loving others, we are also loving Jesus and that is more important than all the southern hospitality in the world! Martha had all the best intentions, but she was missing out on the bigger picture!
Good deeds are important, but spending time with people, instead of always busying ourselves to serve them, is the ultimate act of love and hospitality.
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”1 Peter 4:8-9
As Seen in Modern Grace Magazine