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If you’ve ever been part of a women’s Bible study, it is highly likely that you’ve studied Mary and Martha. Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, give us an example of two different individual’s response to Christ. Martha welcomed Jesus into her home before quickly becoming “distracted with much serving” (Luke 10:40). Mary on the other hand quietly sat at Jesus’ feet, soaking up His every word. After becoming upset, Martha asked Jesus to make Mary help. Jesus then told Martha that she was “anxious and troubled” (Luke 10:41) while Mary was choosing the “good portion which won’t be taken away” (Luke 10:42).
Many current blogs are discussing the topic of hospitality and what it looks like, especially due to Rosaria Butterfield’s new book The Gospel Comes with a House Key (a book that’s definitely on my to-read list). Showing hospitality as an introvert can be a struggle. Add in being shy and socially awkward and striving to become the good, welcoming Christian seems impossible.
Mary or Martha: Who is the Introvert?
I’m tempted to see Mary as the introvert. She was not the one who welcomed Jesus in. In another story (John 11:20), it was again Martha who went out to meet Jesus. Mary is quiet, sitting and reflecting on the words of her Savior. I picture this as being a sweet and calm moment.
I would love to sit all day at the feet of my Savior, completely undistracted. Christ even commends her actions. Yet, I don’t see her response to Christ’s presence as one of an introvert caught up in the desire to rest, but as a woman who recognizes the need to seek Christ above all other things.
Yes, Martha went to greet Christ, welcoming him into their home, but she then became more preoccupied with what a good host should look like. Struggling to show hospitality as an introvert, I’d rather be taking care of details instead of people. Like Martha, I’m “anxious and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41). I’m distracted by my personality and the expectations of the world. Hours of my time gets spent before dinner, searching Pinterest for the perfect meal, cleaning the house, making sure everything goes according to plan.
These things are not necessarily bad. In Is Interior Decorating a Distraction from Gospel Work, I said,
“Inexpensive details like making sure there is a full roll of toilet paper and that your home smells nice help others feel more comfortable. Show your guests that they have dignity and worth, that you value their presence.”
Yet, the problem comes when we are focused purely on our works. Even a quick scan of 1 John reveals that we can only love others because of the love of God in us.
“We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19
If we are not sitting at Christ’s feet, following Mary’s example, we will not know love.
Strength to Demonstrate Hospitality as an Introvert
This same Mary is later seen anointing Jesus and wiping his feet with her hair (John 12:1-8). Imagine the strength and boldness this act took. Picture all the people at the table, and then listen to Judas call out Mary’s actions, questioning her lavish display of affection for her Lord.
These were not timid actions. This physical act of worship came after abiding in and beholding the Son of God.
“…I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” – 1 John 2:14b
Abiding in Christ transforms us and gives us the strength to follow his commands. You may be an introvert, but you are to sacrifice your introvert needs to love the body (this includes your children).
“Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.” – 1 John 2:10
“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” – 1 John 3:11
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.” – 1 John 3:14
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.” – 1 John 5:1
I would highly encourage you to read all of 1 John to see the importance and connection between abiding in Christ and loving your brother.
Sitting at the feet of Jesus, soaking up His teachings, should lead to love for your brother in Christ.
Hospitality may feel harder for the introvert due to feeling the need for rest afterward. There are still, however, practical ways that introverts can show love to other believers.
3 Practical Tips for Introverts to Practice Hospitality
- Schedule time to talk to others face-to-face. Even if you aren’t an introvert, it may be easy to get caught up in your schedule or your children’s schedules. If, like Martha, you spend more time making sure your home is perfect, set up times to visit with others at the park where your children have a place to play while you talk. Be intentional with this time, maybe praying for the person and conversation beforehand.
- Invite someone into your normal, day-to-day life. I heard an encouraging word about finding time to disciple others. As a mom, this seems impossible. Yet, I should ask myself, are there things I am already doing that I can invite others to join in with me? Does your child have a baseball or soccer game? Invite someone to come and sit with you. Do you always go to the park on Mondays at 10 am? Tell your friend as a standing invitation to meet up.
- If you are in a hard season of life, truly feeling physically exhausted, you can still use your gifts to show others love. Drop off a meal (even pick-up!), give a friend a book with a prayer written in the front, or text another mom encouraging verses throughout her day. Think about small, practical needs you can meet. Loving others doesn’t always mean hosting dinner or having lengthy conversations.
What Do You Think?
If you’re an introvert, do you struggle with hospitality and loving other believers well? What are some of the unique gifts you have to show hospitality as an introvert and build up the body of Christ?