Summer of Hospitality #10 - Home-spun Hospitality
2 Kings 4:8-10
One day Elisha went to the town of Shunem. A wealthy woman lived there, and she invited him to eat some food. From then on, whenever he passed that way, he would stop there to eat. She said to her husband, "I am sure this man who stops in from time to time is a holy man of God. Let's make a little room for him on the roof and furnish it with a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp. Then he will have a place to stay whenever he comes by."
Elisha worked in the Northern Kingdom of Israel in a time when people were far away from God. He traveled from town to town doing the Lords work. He would have to rely on the Lord to feed him and the Lord would cause somebody to show him hospitality. What was it about the woman in todays passage that warranted her story to be recorded in the fourth chapter of second Kings? What great act did she do? Did she save her people like Esther did? Did she lead her people to God like the Samaritan woman at the well? Was she some great leader or judge like Deborah? Did one of her children become great like Hannah or Jochebed? Was she strikingly beautiful like Sarah, or Bathsheba, or Esther? Was she endowed with great knowledge or skill? Apparently the answer is NO! She wasnt anything special! In fact, her name isnt even recorded, and yet her great act is recorded here. And what was her great act? She opened her home, welcomed a stranger in and fed him!
I think we often struggle today with service because we think it has to be some great act. If its not some great, newsworthy deed (saving a life or something) its not worth the effort. What kind of service is God looking for out of us? Simple acts of kindness! In this case, opening our homes in gracious hospitality!
What impact can opening our homes truly have? In her book Open Heart, Open Home, Karen Burton Mains says, "I am firmly convinced that if Christians would open their homes and practice hospitality as defined in Scripture, we could significantly alter the fabric of society. We could play a major role in its spiritual, moral, and emotional redemption." Author Ellen G. White says it this way: "Our time here is short. We can pass through this world but once; as we pass along, let us make the most of life. The work to which we are called does not require wealth or social position or great ability. It requires a kindly, self-sacrificing spirit and a steadfast purpose. A lamp, however small, if kept steadily burning, may be the means of lighting many other lamps. Our sphere of influence may seem narrow, our ability small, our opportunities few, our acquirements limited; yet wonderful possibilities are ours through a faithful use of the opportunities of our own homes. If we will open our hearts and homes to the divine principles of life, we shall become channels for currents of life-giving power. From our homes will flow streams of healing, bringing life, and beauty, and fruitfulness where now are barrenness and dearth." (The Adventist Home, p. 33.)
Take time today to ask the Lord how you can use your home or apartment to practice gracious hospitality. Let it be an avenue for reaching into the community around you. Host a cookout and invite your co-workers. Have your neighbor over for dinner. Invite a new person from church in to your home to get to know them. Let God inspire you with fresh ideas to be a conduit of His love, His mercy, and His acceptance.
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