What do you think of when you hear the word, “Hospitality”? I’m sure a few things may cross your thoughts like perfect Pinterest-worthy table settings and the latest mason jar craft. Maybe the South comes to mind with their famous Southern Hospitality, or finally getting to use that fancy wedding set you got years ago. I must admit: I thought the same. Since I was young, I would pour over home magazines, oohing and ahhing over all the pretty things that could house delicious meals (who am I kidding? I still do that from time to time). When I threw a party, I threw a party, going all out with decor and matching dishes and sometimes thematic scapes that would impress even Joanna Gaines (okay, maybe not that great, but you get the picture).
When the topic of Biblical Hospitality came up, I had no idea what that was. I had taken one of those spiritual gifts test and had gotten hospitality as one and I did not know what that meant. I decided to dig a little deeper. Here are just a few things I found in the Bible about hospitality (all verses are from the English Standard Version)
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2
“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9
"Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." Romans 12:13
"She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy." Proverbs 31:20
“...and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts” Acts 2:46
“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” Matthew 25:35
It is tempting to get discouraged in times like today when social media shows picture-perfect homes and tablescapes. It’s tempting to just give up and not even bother trying unless your party is Instagram-worthy.
With the Bible being so clear on the importance of each of us showing hospitality, I felt it important to not only practice it, but help others do so as well. Today, I want to share with you just three things to know about Biblical Hospitality. I hope it is practical for you and will encourage you as you move forward in blessing others!
1) It Is For Everyone and Yields Great Joy
We are to show hospitality to everyone we meet - not just our family and friends. Hospitality requires vulnerability and obedience. Some of the best and most memorable visits are messy and unexpected. Sometimes showing hospitality is even unwanted! I’ve had many a time, especially because I’ve devoted my life to ministry, where people have shown up at the door, or plans have been made very last minute. I’m quite type A and like to have things perfectly in order. When I’m tempted to turn people down or shrink away, I remember Christ’s example of embracing everyone. It is always a blessing when I choose to follow His way.
Although the practice of hospitality asks the sacrifice of our time, our needs and our resources, it is rewarded with great joy. There is not much that is more energizing and fulfilling than serving others. You just need to be willing!
2) Hospitality is Not the same as Entertaining
There is no mention of Pinterest or picture-perfect table spreads in any definitions of hospitality. Of course, there is nothing wrong with making things beautiful for our guests (and we absolutely should create pleasant and warm atmospheres for them), but is your motivation true hospitality, or just showing off?
Remember: entertaining is to impress, but hospitality is to bless.
The best hospitality I’ve experienced has been with those who encourage me and welcome me without even trying. I’ve left their company refreshed and ready to pass their love to others. Be sure that people leave your company refreshed and invigorated for good, and pray that they have experienced Christ through you.
3) Hospitality Is About More Than Sharing a Meal
Hospitality can be risky, and is asked of all of us (remember those verses above?). While some of us may find it easier to do than others, we are all called to show Christ's love and hospitality - it can be (and should be!) a part of our lives.
Being aware of the needs of others is a huge way to show this. Pray with others. Encourage them. Listen to them! Yes, give them a meal if that is how you are ministering to them. Meeting needs in a practical way is truly hospitable - would we not want the same to be shown to us?
Hospitality is for us to show God's love to others. God calls us to it, and the rewards are eternal. We have been blessed so we can bless others. Withholding hospitality will hinder our joy.
How do you show hospitality? What are some things you struggle with when doing so? Does it come easily to you?