Summer of Hospitality #7 - Practice Hospitality

Romans 12:13

"Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality."

As far back as you want to go in the history of God's people, one of the God-appointed duties of the righteous was hospitality -- meaning the willingness to welcome people into your home (or your apartment) who don't ordinarily belong there. Jesus urged people to open their banquets and dinner tables to more than family and friends who could return the favor, to welcome the poor and sick who had little to offer in return. The apostle Paul urged fellow Christians to welcome one another as Christ had welcomed them. He challenged the early believers to “pursue” hospitality.

But it’s important not to confuse hospitality with entertaining. Entertaining is fine china, and cloth napkins, and a dessert that took three hours to prepare. Entertaining is having the house cleaned, the lawn mowed, and the kids shuffled off to grandma’s house so they won’t spill anything on your guests. Hospitality, on the other hand, is inviting people into your life, just as you are. Hospitality is walking into the living room two steps ahead of your guests and kicking the toys behind the couch. Hospitality is sharing whatever you’re having, even if it’s just leftover meatloaf and microwave Tater-Tots. Hospitality is real life. Therefore, by necessity, hospitality is humble because, if we open up our homes and our lives to people to minister to their needs, some of the messiness of our own lives is going to be exposed. And that’s OK. Hospitality has to come before pride. Not that there’s anything wrong with cleaning the house and putting a casserole in the oven, when you know that company is coming. That shows caring and respect also. But sometimes, you sense a need, or the opportunity for fellowship arises spontaneously, and you have to be prepared to invite folks over, regardless of what the house looks like. Because it’s not your house, or your furniture, or your cooking skills that people need most. It’s your friendship. Don’t let pride keep you from practicing hospitality.

There are people right now in our church who could use some encouragement. It would just make their week if someone were to invite them over for dinner after church, or maybe call and invite them over some evening, for watermelon and popcorn. Just to talk, see how they’re doing, shoot the breeze for a while. Lend a sympathetic ear. It doesn’t take much. You just have to do it! Let me give you a suggestion. Once a month, or once every six weeks, or however often you can manage it, plan to invite someone home for dinner after church. Prepare some more food; set extra places at the table, and when you get to church, look around for someone new. After the service, go up to them, introduce yourselves and say, "We were hoping to meet someone that we could invite home for dinner today. Would you be able to join us?" That’s all. It’s very simple, but also very powerful.