For this next slice of our blog series, I asked my mom to write her thoughts on hospitality - an important next-step in the process of loving others. Although she could claim to be an introvert, she is so good at stepping out and loving people by welcoming them into our home with open arms. She inspires me...and I hope what she wrote is also an encouragement to you. =)
What images come to mind when you hear that word? Fine china? Aprons? Perfectly prepared food and table linens? Does that word make you feel stressed and think of how much work is entailed? Or maybe "hospitality" makes you excited?
This word encompasses so much more than just having a Christmas party or inviting important guests to your home. For extroverts, hospitality might be the easiest thing in the world that just makes you so happy. For introverts, it might seem overwhelming to actually invite people into your safe, private place called home.
If you look at the definition of what Noah Webster has to say and mesh that with what the Bible has to say, I think you will get a far wider, more relaxing picture in your head that hospitality can encompass so many different aspects to meet each of our personality needs!
Webster defines hospitality as,
"The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers."
See, no mention of elaborate 5-course meals, fine china, or fancy dresses!
I have heard many people say that hospitality "just isn’t my gift." I’ve heard excuses ranging from "I'm not a good cook," "my house is not very nice," "it is just not my season," or "it would feel weird to invite people into my home." This post is NOT to condemn you if you don’t practice this but to encourage you that it is important to practice hospitality, not just to bless others but because you will be blessed in return. Let’s start with a few verses from the Bible on this topic:
"Be hospitable to one another without grumbling." - 1 Peter 4:9
In Romans 12 under the heading “behaving as a Christian,” it explains some characteristics of Christians:
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality." - Romans 12:9-13 (emphasis mine)
The last passage I would like to share is in 1 Timothy 5. It explains that if a widow's family is not available to take care of her, the church should, but it lists requirements that the widow must have in order to qualify. (and thus probably good guidelines for us as well)
- 60 years old
- Wife of one man
- Well reported for good works
- Brought up children
- Lodged strangers
- Washed the saints’ feet
- Relieved the afflicted
- Diligently followed every good work
Whew, that is quite a list. It can feel overwhelming just to read that list, but let’s remember the heart of those qualities. Jesus wants us to just love others, whatever that means for each person we encounter. Most will not require their feet to be washed (thankfully), but how much would it mean to that elderly person down the street to just come over for dinner and hear the laughter of children in your home? How about the single mom who would love to visit and have adult conversations while her children play with new friends? Or the new couple who just moved from out of state who don’t know anything about the community - to have someone they can ask about garbage service or where to go for car repair or which veterinarian is good for their dog, Spanky?
I could give dozens of examples of people who would be incredibly blessed by coming into YOUR kitchen, feeling the love of your family, having a listening ear, and leave feeling connected and important. I know you have people in mind right now as you’re reading!!
Now the practical part. HOW to do this?
First, just invite them. Does your family have anything on the calendar Friday? Great. Let’s invite those neighbors across that street that we have waved at a million times and don’t know anything about them. Are they busy? How about another neighbor? Older person from church?
It’s good to ask if they have any food restrictions... and go from there. Usually Italian food or chicken is a safe first meal. Spaghetti or lasagna, garlic bread and a salad? Of course an easy dessert. You can even just buy ice cream - who doesn’t love THAT? Or some baked chicken and easy side dishes. If you really aren’t good at cooking, how about inviting them over for pizza and picking up pizza just before meal time? No stress!
To be helpful, I will include the recipe that I almost always serve for first time guests. It’s very easy, and we’ve never had anyone not love it.
And that's it! You can serve with a salad and bread if you want to.
So your challenge for the week: Think of one neighbor or anyone else that comes to mind that would be blessed by your hospitality. (remember: friendly and generous reception - not perfect food or spotless house.) Invite them this weekend….and prepare to be blessed yourself!!!!
About the Author:
Misti is a tie-dye wearing, bright paint loving, homeschool mom to 9 sweet savages. She spends her day changing the world by doing laundry, cooking incessantly, teaching students from Master's degree to preschool, helping younger, overwhelmed moms, and doing more cooking. Living on a farm and raising an army of children is no easy job, but she loves every minute of it. Misti is thankful to be happily married to her husband of 23 years as they live the adventure of following an awesome God.