Hospitality… a Matter of Heart, Not Home
Hospitality is at the heart of the Gospel. God the Father invites us into His family through a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. As His followers, it is our call to exhibit this same love and generosity of spirit to our fellow man. This past week the Redeemed Girl team gathered at the home of my friend Jessica Trozzo to celebrate ten years of Redeemed Girl Ministries. She embodies the gift of hospitality and shares with us in this post the heart behind Christ-centered entertaining. It is a joy to welcome her to the blog today. --Marian
Not having my home decorated for Christmas would be like Rudolph without his shiny red nose, Ralphie without his glasses, or Clark Grizwald without Cousin Eddie. It’s just impossible. Now I am not one of those that decorates for Christmas before Thanksgiving has passed. No way, I just can’t do that. You know these people, you may even be “these people,” but at my house, Thanksgiving has its own giant and glorious plastic tub of warm, wonderful decorations that won’t be shortchanged by the allure of Christmas trees, glittery glass ornaments, and twinkle lights in every corner. I enjoy decorating my home for holidays immensely, so much so that I’ve even kicked off a little wreath making business this year. So now, when I’m gently put on a spending freeze by my husband, I can still spend someone else’s money to make something beautiful and welcoming for their home! It works out well for all. As much as I love to decorate my home and hang beautiful wreaths on my front door to welcome guests, what I love more is having those guests inside it, enjoying it with me.
With perfection demanding allegiance in every direction we turn, we must be careful not to miss the heart of hospitality. It is not the immaculate home, finest linens or table setting, not the most gourmet dinner (or better yet, Instagram-worthy dish), or the festive decorations that warm the home. No, it is not the appearance of hospitality that matters the most, it is the heart behind it.
Sisters Mary and Martha from the Bible are an excellent lesson on this in Luke 10:38-42. Martha took the first and important step in opening her home to Jesus. Then she set about to work making all the preparations for her guest. Her sister Mary, on the other hand, “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” Martha, clearly annoyed with her sister, pleads with Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help her in the kitchen! (I so get Martha.) But Jesus gently responds with: “Martha… you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.” Well, what exactly did Mary chose? What is the better part? Mary chose to be present and attentive to her guest, and very intentional in listening to him. This is not to discredit the importance of being prepared to have guests in your home… if you invite folks over for dinner, you should probably make an effort to feed them! But what we see here, is Jesus kindly pointing Martha to the heart of hospitality… loving on people. We must beware not to miss the mission of hospitality for the measures of making it happen.
I am a mom of 3 children (really 4 now considering that my puppy requires much attention and is quite possibly more of a mess than all 3 of my children combined!), and my house often looks as though a tornado swept through by 8:30 am. If I waited for my home to look perfect every time I asked someone to step inside, quite frankly, no one would ever be inside my home. I’ve come to realize, as I’m sure Martha did, that it is not the presentation that people want and need -- it’s the people. That is what’s at the heart of hospitality… people connecting with people, eyeball to eyeball and one heart to another. I’ve also found that it’s quite freeing and even profitable for others to be in my home, even when it’s a mess. Letting them enter into my mess, both literally and figuratively speaking, encourages them to share theirs with me. And isn’t this what authentically loving others is all about?
With perfection properly placed aside, we are free to more fully engage in hospitality… offering people a comfortable and safe place to come, to be heard, encouraged, counseled, refreshed, leaving them blessed by the Lord through his ministry of hospitality through us. After all, God was the first and best example of hospitality. “But God showed his own love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 God opened up his heavenly home and heart to us through Jesus’ sacrifice, making way to invite us to dine with him at his most glorious banquet table for all eternity! He shows us how to make others feel special, how to really listen, encourage, extend kindness… he gives us wisdom on how to offer counsel, and all of these are at the heart of hospitality.
It’s interesting to note too, that Jesus, the most gracious example of a host we have, “had no place to even lay his head.” Matthew 8:20 I love that! Hospitality is not bound by the walls of a house and certainly not by the size and beauty of our homes. Rather, it’s shared through the loveliness of our hearts.
Are we as Christians inviting or intimidating in our conversations with others? Are we intentionally listening and engaging in those conversations? Are we focusing inwardly or outwardly? Are we warm and welcoming to the newcomer? Are we encouraging, and helpful to those in need? As we would add special touches to our homes, are we adding special touches to our relationships as well? We are “a home” if you will, of Christ’s hospitality to the world… oh, that when they encounter us, that they could sense a warm invitation to sit down and meet with Jesus.
In Romans 9-21 Paul offers us a “how-to list” for the Lord’s call to all of us to have a hospitable heart… the passage refers to: genuine love, brotherly affection, outdoing one another in honor, contributing to needs, blessing and not to cursing, rejoicing with others when they are rejoicing and weeping with them when they are weeping, living in harmony, and striving to be at peace with others. Simply put, to truly be hospitable, we need to be like Jesus to others, fully trusting that He will work in and through us to love and bless others.
This holiday season, and all throughout the year, let us be intentional about truly engaging with loved ones, lonely ones and lost ones to make them feel special, as Christ does for us. Let us use our gifts, resources and hospitable heart to bless others… “for in doing so, some have entertained angels.” Heb.13:2
Jessica Trozzo is a dear friend of Redeemed Girl Ministries. She has a passion for believers to walk in the abundant life Christ died to give us and is also a small business owner of TEN:NINE Co where she creates custom door designs to welcome guests and warm the home. You can follow her on Instagram @ten9co. Jessica resides in Houston, Texas with her husband Matt and their three adorable children.
Photography by Lindsay Ellis