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hospitality Defined

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According to Oxford Languages, hospitality is “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” In American culture, the South is well-known for its open-door policy of dropping in on family and friends to be greeted with a cup of sweet tea and maybe a muffin. Christian hospitality is sacrificial service to those outside of your home by preparing your home so that others are loved and welcomed and can rest and be refreshed. Good food, good conversation, and a good atmosphere/ air all combine to make a guest or stranger feel at ease and relaxed because they are welcome to “stay a while.”

Several verses speak about hospitality in the Bible.

  • 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Titus 1: 7-8
  •  Romans 12:13
  • 1 Timothy 5:10
  • Hebrews 13:2

They are all important, and an interesting note is that 1 Peter 4:9 encourages all Christians (not just the clergy) to “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.”

Just as Jesus warned His disciples to be welcoming towards those who were needy, whether that was in food, drink, or clothes in Matthew 25:31-46, we must also (if we consider ourselves His disciples as well), extend what we have toward those with less or in our path. A generous and charitable spirit is imperative, whether that is to our family members or strangers.

Hospitality is not creating five-course meals to impress friends and family members. Hospitality is also not making people feel bad because you had to go to the grocery store a couple of extra times for ingredients for the meal that you invited them to but couldn’t be bothered with an actual correct list in the first place. And hospitality is not berating guests because they don’t strictly adhere to your no-shoes policy, or their toddler cries a little more than yours. Hospitality truthfully is simply putting others’ needs before your own in the context of your home.  

3 fears I had about diving into hospitality and opening our home:

  1. People may feel uncomfortable in my home or not enjoy the food.
  2. My home may not be clean enough for someone else.
  3. I’m a natural introvert, and my personality/ social awkwardness may be too much to overcome.

3 ways hosting alleviated the fears:

  1. We cooked more than enough food by overestimating and having plenty of options. Also, the biblical principle to consider would be the widow with the two mites. In Luke 21:1-4, Jesus commented on her generosity despite her lack of resources, and this stood out in contrast to those who gave from their abundance.
  2. I figured if they came over to judge the state of my house, they weren’t true friends, and we would be able to tell. This may be a stretch but Matthew 7:1-6 tells us to be careful of how harshly we judge someone because that same severity may be applied to us.
  3. If you invite some natural talkers and keep your hands busy, they barely notice that you don’t talk as much. We all have gifts to offer each other, and 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 reminds us that we all can work together for the good of the kingdom, so I don’t need to worry about not being eloquent. Others have that gift to share.

Stressing more about the state of my baseboards and the dust on my blinds detracted from the ultimate purpose of hospitality, which is an opportunity to show someone the love of Christ and the welcome arm of His Church through serving. I am so glad that we have found a group of people who demonstrated this to us so unassumingly and with genuine care, filling us with such a warm and invited embrace. And now, we have begun our journey to do the same with others.

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