I had a voicemail last night from a woman we used to go to church with. She called to ask my always-hungry family over for supper. How delightful! I love going to other people’s homes to eat! I consider it an honor when folks open up their homes to let us get a better look of who they are and what they do. Plus, it’s a night off from my kitchen responsibilities!
I think hospitality is important for a number of reasons. First of all, we’ve all been blessed with such an abundance of good things; hospitality gives us the opportunity to share some of them. Second, opening up our homes to others ideally requires us to slow down and put others before ourselves. This is an especially great example to our children! Hospitality also allows God to reward us according to our faithfulness. Matthew 25 tells us that when we are faithful with a few things, God will put us in charge of many things, allowing us to share in His happiness.
A lot of people have a lot of excuses as to why they don’t want to invite people into their homes. In preparation for a workshop I was to teach, I did some research on what kept folks from offering hospitality. Allow me to introduce and refute the three most popular.
Excuse: I don’t have enough time.
Truth: Baloney! We all have 24 hours all day, every day. When we can’t seem to find time to honor God’s gentle nudges to be hospitable, we are way too busy.
Excuse: We’re already tight on money.
Truth: Hospitality does not have to be expensive. The first time I invited over a large family, this really concerned me. At the time, we were on a monthly grocery budget of $200, and I wasn’t sure I could swing it. I finally decided to just do it even if it meant that my little family ate pancakes the rest of the month. Speaking of pancakes, that’s what I served. We had breakfast for supper, and the kids loved it!
Excuse: People will judge me because of my housekeeping/cooking/parenting skills.
Truth: Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. That really isn’t your concern. Your job is to do what God is calling you to do. I remember serving very garlicky garlic bread (just the way we like it) to a woman who was in our home for the first time. The woman took a bite of her bread and literally gasped for air while trying to nonchalantly fan the garlic taste out of her mouth. I don’t think she thinks any less of my today than she did before we invited her into our home, but I guess it’s possible. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. I did the best I knew to do at the time, and I believe God honored my efforts.
When we do the best we can to make people feel valued when they walk through our doors, God is glorified. That’s what it’s about. Entertaining others is never about us. It’s about God and the people He is counting on us to love. It doesn’t mean that we won’t benefit from our obedience; it just means we should rarely, if ever, be our primary concern.
Challenge: Invite someone over for a meal. Even if it has to happen two months down the road, get the date on the calendar and start working toward it. If having folks into your home is just not feasible right now for one reason or another, invite someone out to lunch, your treat.