Dictionary.com defines hospitality as 1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers 2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.
In the last several months we have been convicted more about inviting people into our home for a time of fellowshipping around the table and building relationships. When we talked to others about getting together I used to actually pray they would offer to do it at their house. Hosting at my own house has been somewhat hard for me for several reasons. For one thing, our house is a constant construction project. At times I have felt our house was not good enough, or wondered what people would think of our ongoing work. Also, I am admittedly not a very good cook (unless it’s baby food). I like to cook, but I am not very good at it and never want people to eat something they don’t enjoy. In addition, we have small children. I know they are good kids most of the time, but sometimes I am nervous about how they will act when others are in our home. Well all of these were just excuses! We did not have any good reasons for not inviting people into our home and sharing what we have. We may not have the fanciest house; we may not serve the fanciest food, and it might be loud in our house sometimes, but we always have a good time building relationships.
Why be hospitable?
Sometimes we think hospitality is optional, but the Bible specifically commands it.
1 Peter 4:9-10 – “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. “
Romans 12:13 – “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
These are just two of the many, many verses in the Bible pertaining to showing hospitality. God’s Word make it very clear that as believers we are to share what we have without grumbling or in my case, making excuses.
How to be hospitable?
Like I wrote earlier, I am not a gourmet chef, and I don’t have the most exquisite house. But I love to fellowship with people. I want them to feel comfortable in my home. I know for me, I actually feel less comfortable in someone’s home that is immaculate. I am afraid I am going to mess something up, or get it out of place, or that one of my children will break something. I want people to enjoy the food they eat at my house, not feel like they have to worry about which fork to use.
So here are a few things that work for us. Again we are not experts by any means. We simply like to fellowship and build relationships.
- Pray before, during, and after. Pray before that God would ordain the conversation to move in the direction he would desire. Pray during, not just for your food. What a better way to let people know you are praying for them than by doing it while they are in your home. Pray after that God will use the time you spent together for his glory, and for future opportunities.
- Be flexible. Understand that those you are inviting may not have the same schedule you do and they may not have the same taste buds you do.
- Be yourself. If the goal is to build relationships, and serve others, they need to see the real you. One of my favorite things that my husband tries to do every time we have guest over for dinner is inviting them to join us for family worship. They get to see the real us.
- Make your home comfortable, but don’t stress about making it spotless. I have learned over the last several months that I enjoy my time much more if I don’t start off all stressed because of my house. I want there to be a place for everyone to sit in the living room and at the table, and I want the kitchen cleaned so we can serve whatever food we are having, but I don’t mind if there are some toys out, or a pile of papers/mail that needs to be filed. I do however TRY to make sure it doesn’t smell like dirty diapers.
- Find out about the tastes and allergies of your company. You never want to be serving something that your guests don’t like or can’t eat. We went to a church fellowship with young families not too long ago, and I forgot to ask about any food allergies. I was asked to make dessert. I got excited because dessert is one thing I do pretty well. I made an array of cookies, peanut butter, sugar, and chocolate chip, and put them all on the same tray. Unfortunately, when we got there I found out that one of the children was deathly allergic to peanuts, and could not enjoy any of the cookies because they were all on the same plate. So now I make it a point to ask not only about likes and dislikes, but also allergies.
- Most of all, remember, being hospitable is not about the hostess. It’s about your guests!!!
The next time you have people over, throw out your expectations. Let God be in charge of things. Relax and enjoy!!!
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”