All Christians are exhorted to show hospitality (Heb. 13:2), but in 1 Tim. 3:2 we find that church officers are required to be “given to hospitality”. This seems to be more than occasionally inviting someone over for dinner, it seems that it’s a lifestyle. What does that look like? How do we find the time? Energy? What about our budget?
I think that one key to hospitality in today’s have it all, do it all society is availability, making general decisions that allow you to fulfill specific needs as they occur.
Monday morning I receive a call from a friend. One of her children has broken his arm and they are on their way to see an orthopedist. Young Douglas requires surgery to successfully set his arm. The family hangs at our home for a couple of hours until it’s time for surgery and we keep 10 month old Caleb until surgery is finished.
While they are at the surgery center, the girls and I put together a simple dinner for three families. We deliver one to a family in the church whose mom is struggling through the first trimester of pregnancy, send one home with Douglas’ family and eat one ourselves.
Tuesday friends stop by and stay to let the kids play, we pass out water to our guests.
Wednesday my brother and his family come for dinner. They leave their 4 oldest children (3-8) while they head on to Nashville.
At midnight a tree falls on our neighbors house and Mark heads out with flashlights and tarps.
Thursday afternoon we deliver cookies to our neighbors. When we come out we notice a familiar car in our driveway. Suzanne and her husband Richie pay us a surprise visit on their way out of Alabama (they have no power because of the storms). They visit and play with the kids and stay for dinner.
We are blessed to visit with our friends, watch them wrestle with the kids and share their newest jokes. The fellowship of the saints is indeed sweet.
Friday we are taking a hot dinner to our neighbors who have no power, will welcome cousins for lunch (they’re bringing their own food) and hoping that our always-invited-for-family-fun-night-guest-who’s-really-part-of-the-family will make it to dinner this evening.
This isn’t a typical week, but somehow weeks like this occur much more often than one would think. I suspect it’s God’s way of showing us His vision for our family. It’s also a good reminder that hospitality is not about putting on a show and does not require a huge effort or budget. It’s simply sharing what you have with those who God brings into your life. (When the first you know about company is when they’re knocking on the door or already sitting on your couch, you quickly learn to share what you have.)
Hospitality is sharing a drink of cold water, lending someone a flashlight, preparing a meal, babysitting, being available to listen, sending big kids out to be a momma’s helper or to mow a yard. Hospitality is being aware and available to fill needs as they arise.
To help fulfill this blessed requirement (2 Cor. 8:4) of being ‘given to hospitality’, our family has avoided filling our days with activities that call us away from home and make it difficult to be available. We try not to fill our time with things that we must do for ourselves and our children so that we have time and energy for others. We plan hospitality into the budget and then remember that Christ says that even sharing a cup of cold water in His name is blessed.
The amazing thing that we find as we strive to be more obedient and more faithful in this area is that the real blessing of hospitality is given to those practicing it. We praise God for the relationships we’ve made as people come into our home as strangers leave our home as friends.
This post is included in the Christian Home carnival at The Legacy of Home.