The Heart of Hospitality – Part 1
True hospitality is not found in the pages of Southern Living, Better Homes and Gardens, or Good Housekeeping, but in the Word of God. Unfortunately, these magazines have distorted the meaning of biblical hospitality by appealing to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. We drool over pictures of elaborate homes decorated to perfection and become dissatisfied with our own. We conclude our homes will never measure up and are not worthy of guests. What we need to realize is hospitality has nothing to do with things, and everything to do with Christ. It’s about obeying him by serving others. Paul wrote we are to “serve one another humble in love” (Galatians 5:13). No matter what talents God has granted us, we are all commanded to “practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13). When we obey God’s command, He uses us to touch the hearts of others in ways we can’t even imagine.
My friend Toma opened her heart and home to me and loved me during a time when I was not so lovable. Before I came to know Jesus as Savior and Lord, I didn’t care to be around Christians. In fact, I avoided them like the plague. My parents came to know the Lord in mid-life, and as a result, insisted I attend church with them. As a seventeen-year-old rebellious teenager, I refused. I hated church, I disliked the people in the church, and I had grown sick of hearing about God. It was a confusing, difficult, and extremely stressful time in my life. God was calling me and I was running.
When my parents and I fought over their new found faith in God and I wanted to get away from them, I would go to Toma’s house. Interesting little tidbit: Toma’s husband was the person who led my parents to the Lord. I can remember storming out of my house several times after heated arguments with my parents and heading straight for Toma’s. And I bet God grinned.
There was rest in Toma’s home. I recall one time in particular when I barged in crying. Through angry tears I announced I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to hear about God, I just wanted to calm down and rest. I lay down on her couch, my body convulsing with sobs, as she gently rubbed my back and hummed while I cried myself to sleep.
There was nothing impressive about Toma’s house by worldly standards, but to me it was a refuge of comfort and peace. A place where I was welcomed, accepted, and loved. Although I did not know God, there was no doubt in my mind that He dwelled in Toma’s house. God used her open heart and open home to reveal himself to me. As a result, a rebellious teenager realized and accepted the love of God. That’s what hospitality is all about.
Pride often stands in the way of biblical hospitality. Pride entertains people, while hospitality makes them feel welcomed and wanted.
Hospitality is not about impressing others with our clever decorating, gourmet cooking, or clean and organized homes. It’s about welcoming, serving, and loving people in the name of Jesus and for the sake of the gospel. It’s about a willingness to be used by God at all times in all ways, not just when it’s convenient. Paul said it’s about sharing our lives: “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
The gospel is presented through our lives, not just our words. Sharing our homes is sharing our lives.