As Christians, we are known for how we love one another. One way that we can show our love for each other and the world is to be hospitable. Hospitality though is much more than doing. It is a matter of the heart. As Christ has said, “God loves a cheerful giver.” Not just a giver, but a cheerful giver. So is hospitality. It runs deeper than mere outward acts of love.
There are a few things that I would like to expound upon in regards to hospitality: Invitation, willingness, joy, humility, and flexibility.
Be Inviting 1 Timothy 5:10, “…if she has shown hospitality to strangers…”
When in society, it is uncouth for one to invite themselves over to a person’s house without a proper invitation. With this being the case, it is important to be inviting. While inviting is an active verb where one has to engage, it is essential to have the passive mindset of hospitality. In other words, we need to always be thinking of ways to be hospitable and then, when the opportunity arises, engage the person and be inviting.
I have heard it said that 93% of communication is body language and the other 7% is simply the words said. It is therefore extremely important to have an appropriate demeanor and attitude. If the host inviting is doing it begrudgingly or noticeably straining at the thought of people coming over to the house, it might make the guest feel unwelcome and a burden. No person would find it as enjoyable, knowing that they are a burden to the host.
Be Willing Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
When I was first married, I tried to make Sunday a very special day. The fine China would come out of the closet, the best food on the table, and the house warm and inviting. We tried to make Sunday an extremely special day of worshipping the Lord and fellowshipping with the saints. There were even some Sundays when we did not have any visitors planned and the house was still prepared for a party to come over. But, I couldn’t do this without being willing. If necessary, make dinners and freeze them–they are ready to be de-thawed and served to the lot. You never know who you could be entertaining.
Be Joyful 1 Peter 4:9, “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”
Joyful. The command to be joyful, giving with a joyful spirit, not communicating the person is a burden (being somewhere and knowing you are not wanted…miserable). With some people, it takes a lot of practice to be good at cooking and throwing things together. As is the case, sometimes, it takes practice to be joyful in hospitality.
For the first year of my married life, we had a college student living with us. Even though he was the best housemate anyone could ever find, I still found that I struggled to be a blessing to him. My joy was not full. Thankfully, the Lord worked on my heart and I grew in my joy of serving others and without complaining. I do fail, often I might add, but the Lord has continued to shape and mold me into a joyful servant.
Be Humble “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” James 4:6
In all things be humble. Just because you don’t have a steak dinner with expensive wine doesn’t mean that you should let your pride control your hospitality. I have known quite well Proverbs 17:1, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting and strife.” It is quite amazing what one can do by just looking in the cupboards and throwing a bunch of stuff together. Getting a guest to help if they ask always makes the process fun plus there is relationship being built. Don’t let the quality or lack of food in your cupboard hinder you from being hospitable.
My Grandma Lucia was my example when it came to hospitality. She could make nothing into a delicious meal. My grandparents were very poor, living off of a small church salary, and they did not have a lot of money for food. They did however open their house to anyone. Convicts, sojourners, and old friends. Everyone knew they would be welcome to this house. It was a life time of constant willingness. They knew they could find love at this home. It takes humility to get to this point.
Be Flexible Genesis 19:2, “Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.”
Know things won’t go according to plan. My husband has had to come into the kitchen to get me to relax when I was getting stressed out that the food wasn’t turning out (pride) and nothing was going according to plan (too rigid). I had to repent of my lack of willingness and pride keep things going. It was/is not easy. Sometimes it is a struggle, but the Lord is faithful even though I am faithless.
Hospitality is an art that takes practice. It takes a lot of failing and getting back on track. Our hearts are by nature hard and need softening. Strive to be inviting, willing, joyful, humble, and flexible. You never know who you might entertain and we will be known for our love for one another.