Summer of Hospitality #11 - Unselfish Hospitality

Hebrews 13:1-2

"Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

John Piper, author and theologian, said, “The physical force of gravity pulls everything to the center of the earth. In order to break free from earth-centered life, thousands and thousands of pounds of energy have to push the space shuttle away from the center. In like manner, there is also a psychological force of gravity that constantly pulls our thoughts and affections and physical actions inward toward the center of our own selves and our own homes. Therefore the most natural thing in the world is to neglect hospitality. It is the path of least resistance. All we have to do is yield to the natural gravity of our self-centered life, and the result will be a life so full of self that there is no room for hospitality. We will forget about it and end up neglecting it. So the Bible bluntly says. Stop that! Build a launching pad. Fill up your boosters. And blast out of your self-oriented lifestyle! Stop neglecting hospitality. Practice hospitality.”

In order to move away from our self-centeredness and begin sharing or lives through gracious hospitality, we need a working definition to guide us. Hospitality could be defined as “the divine enablement to share with others our home, our lives, our personal space and resources without communicating a need for performance or an expectation of return.” Let’s look at that a little closer. That hospitality includes sharing our home, lives, personal space and resources such as a bed, or food or time, that should be obvious. But one of the first characteristics of good hospitality is that it does not communicate a need for performance. By that, is meant that, the person we welcome into our home does not have to be a great guest, a great conversationalist, the “life of the party.” Some times we invite people over because they can perform socially very well. They have class. They have good character. They’re intelligent. They’re attractive. But if we invite people over with the subtle motivations of socializing in an upwardly mobile way, or for the purposes of personal entertainment and gain, we are expecting from them some performance. This feeds into our own self-centeredness by looking for what we can get out of it! Good hospitality accepts people into our home no matter what their social skills are, no matter what their conversational skills are. Regardless of their performance, they are still very welcome. Hospitality motives are “other-directed” instead of “self” motivated. It is focused on meeting the needs of others.

Secondly, the good practice of hospitality does not include an expectation of return. To be hospitable does not include expecting to get invited back to their place, their party, supper at their house. Again, this plays into our need to satisfy our selfish desires by looking for what we can “get” from the experience. Rather hospitality, like all acts of true love, is a gift that is given without an expectation of return. It’s saying, “You’re welcome in our home, period! No strings attached!” It’s a demonstration of the unconditional love that God has for us.

As we purpose to give of ourselves sacrificially in this way, hospitality will increasingly become a joy as we become channels of God's love and blessing.