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Hospitality is From the Heart 1: The Gift of Showing Hospitality

Day 1 Hospitality is From the Heart

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality (Romans 12:13, ESV). 

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2, ESV).

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God (Leviticus 19:34, ESV).

And having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work (1 Timothy 5:10, ESV).

I am guilty of an obsession with Pinterest, Martha Stewart, HGTV and anything Magnolia. I love to have company, but I often place too much importance on the menu and decorations, and lose sight of what hospitality is really about. Maybe you’ve been there too, intimidated by the perfect prime rib recipe or making origami turkeys. You spend hours of your day in the kitchen, and then experience your own version of a Pinterest fail, making you feel irritated and flustered. But the truth is, we are complicating this gift and making hospitality more than it’s meant to be. 

So, what is hospitality? Hospitality is defined as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. It doesn’t mention anything about the ambiance or the menu—it simply states generosity and a friendly spirit. If we study the definition, we see it’s about an attitude far more than anything else. It would indicate that hospitality is present in a person who lives on the streets and cheerfully shares one simple sandwich with a passerby, and a little friendly conversation. The same hospitable spirit would be found in a luxurious home, serving up a five-course meal and lively conversation. Because hospitality isn’t about the setting—it’s about heart.

While hospitality comes more naturally for some, as Christians, we are all called to be hospitable. Some of us have received the gift of hospitality, but all of us are called to be hospitable. The instruction of Romans 12:13 is for the whole body of Christ, and it isn’t limited to showing hospitality to just other saints, but also to strangers. The Greek word for hospitality is philoxenia meaning “friend to a stranger”. I personally love that thought, and it brings to mind the heart of Jesus. 

We will read in the coming days how Jesus displayed the heart of hospitality, and as Christ-followers, we should have that same heart. We can release ourselves from the pressure of thinking the meal and the setting are what hospitality is about. We can see how anyone and everyone is called to the simple kindness of sharing what we have with others as we demonstrate a kind spirit. Hospitality isn’t just for those with the big house and the art of pulling together a fabulous meal—it’s for all of us. 

When it comes down to it, I really do want my home to be a place people want to spend time. I want it to be a warm place to share a cup of coffee and heartfelt conversation. I want my guests to feel free to open my fridge and help themselves. I want people to put their feet up and stay a while. I long to share stories and hear laughter. And when I get all worked up over carving the perfect turkey, or having the most festive holiday table, I hope I’ll remember what’s really important. I hope I’ll look around the table and appreciate those who chose to share their time with me, and simply enjoy the conversation. I pray that I’ll remember that hospitality isn’t the place settings, the flower arrangement, a beautiful cake or the right table lighting. It’s all about my heart and my attitude in serving others and opening the doors of my home and my heart. And I hope I’ll also remember when I show myself hospitable, that I’m sharing the heart of Christ with others.

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