Day 3 of Hospitality is From the Heart
Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28, ESV).”
The greatest among you shall be your servant (Matthew 23:11, ESV).
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed (Proverbs 19:17, ESV).
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered (Proverbs 11:25, ESV).
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4, ESV).
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him (1John 3:17, ESV)?
I’ll be the first to confess to enjoying the feeling of being served. It’s pretty rewarding sitting on that side of the coin, so to speak. A day at the spa, as a gift from my husband? Sure! A warm, flaky homemade apple pie, brought by my sweet niece? I’ll take it! A delicious prime rib dinner, prepared by my mother, complete with all my favorite side dishes? I’m in! Because as much as I would squirm to admit this, I love being indulged. But if we look closely at the life of Jesus, we see how His example turns the table on this selfish idea of indulgence, and instead, stresses servanthood.
It’s not the attitude we would expect from a King—and while He lived a life that was anything but royal, He certainly was, and is, the King of all kings. And so, we look to His life and His Word, and we see how we are called to service, rather than self-gratification. And in all honesty, this will be a lifestyle that will take intentionality and death to our own selfishness. As we approach this Christmas season, it’s a great time to remind ourselves of the importance of serving others, and joyfully meeting their needs.
You may not financially be able to meet every need of those around you, but we can start small. Offering to watch someone’s baby so they can get a much-needed night out won’t cost money, just your time and effort. Picking up groceries for an elderly lady who no longer feels comfortable driving, will again, cost little apart from your time and effort. Doing some Christmas shopping for a family in need, knowing they can’t afford to give their kids much of a Christmas is a beautiful way to serve others. Inviting a family over for dinner, just to share love and fellowship or doing some Christmas baking to spread some holiday cheer, are great ways to serve through these loving actions.
There are many ways we can practice service, and oftentimes, these acts will not cost us much in the way of money. Jesus and His family were simple carpenters and not known for having much in the way of wealth or material possessions, and yet, His life was all about service and sacrifice. Having a servant’s heart is an attitude, more than anything else. It’s a caring acknowledgment of the needs of others, and yet goes a step further to act on that need. It’s stepping in when we notice someone who needs help, and even when they don’t. It’s a life that looks to the needs of others before the needs I have myself. It requires discipline and a complete shift in our fleshly priority in serving self.
How does serving others relate then, to hospitality? Essentially, service is the action behind being hospitable. It’s giving to others, and meeting their needs while hospitality is the feeling you give others through your cheerful serving. So, we can serve, and through our actions in meeting the needs of others, they will witness a hospitable spirit in us if we do it joyfully, and treat them as guests. For example, we can serve others a meal in our home, and when they are made to feel welcome by our kindness and care, we show them hospitality. In contrast, we can serve that same meal in our home with a grudging spirit, and offer no hospitality nor exemplify a spirit of serving others. Our service and our hospitality are made manifest by our attitude and spirit. It’s important that we check the state of our hearts as we head into the Christmas season. We may have people over, and find ways to perform duties that are needful of us. But if we accomplish these tasks as a mere check-off-the-list, we are missing the heart of Jesus. Instead, if our actions are motivated by loving service, and the care of others, we better represent our Heavenly Father by showing ourselves not only as hospitable, but as servants, doing the work of His Kingdom.