Just last week my husband suggested inviting a few families over for dinner. I looked around at the stacks of boxes scattered around the house we had just moved into and said, “Sure!” I couldn’t find the box with my tablecloths so we made do with whatever I could find. It was imperfect and messy meal and definitely not Pinterest worthy. But most importantly, we opened our home to others because of the One who has opened his heavenly home to us.
A friend recently thanked me for the hospitality I had extended to him and his family over the years. Feeling uncomfortable with the complement, I responded, “Actually, it’s my husband you need to thank. I learned it from him.” I think my comment surprised him. Perhaps because it seemed as though I’ve always had a heart for hospitality.
The truth is, for a long time hospitality was hard for me. I often thought that hospitality was something you only did when you were prepared and had all your ducks in a row. I thought that my home needed to be a certain size and my cooking skills up to a certain level. And just like Martha in Luke 10, I often stressed over the details of hospitality. I focused on whether there were enough chairs for everyone to sit on, each person’s unique dietary needs were met, and that the living room was spotless and the pillows lined up neatly on couch.
What I’ve learned from watching my husband seek out the lonely and invite them into our home is that biblical hospitality has nothing to do with those things. Rather, the heart of hospitality is about sharing our lives for the sake of others, just as Christ did for us.
There’s a difference between hospitality we see on the cover of magazines or on interior design shows on television and the hospitality described in Scripture. Biblical hospitality isn’t about details but about the gospel. It isn’t just for those who can bake, but for all of us. It’s not about receiving complements but about giving to others. It’s about much more than a meal or a comfortable place to lay one’s head. The heart of hospitality is about sharing the greatest treasure we have, Jesus Christ.
Four things to remember about hospitality:
- It’s for all of us: It’s true, many women enjoy inviting others into their home. Countless magazines are directed to women, giving them advice on hosting dinner parties and holiday gatherings. But Biblical hospitality is a call for everyone, not just women. Peter’s instructions for hospitality were to all believers, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9). Paul also had similar instructions, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:13). The writer to the Hebrews exhorted, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). Hospitality was expected, not only of widows (1 Timothy 5:10), but also listed as a requirement for elder (Titus 1:8 and 1 Timothy 3:2).