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Hospitality is From the Heart 4: Planning A Guest List

Day 4 Hospitality is From the Heart

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you are repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:12-14, ESV).”

When I read this parable in Luke chapter 14, I have to admit it makes me a little uncomfortable. Looking behind me, I could rattle off plenty of guests I’ve had in my home, but most of them would not fit the description given by Jesus in this scripture passage. When it comes to guests of my household, you’ll most often find friends and family. These are guests that make me comfortable, and we share a friendship or a bloodline that connects us easily to one another. This sort of company is chosen because I know them, I love them, and I enjoy spending time with them. My repayment would not even need a mutual invite, but would be that I indulged myself by spending time with them. 

I don’t think the point of this passage is that we shouldn’t have our family, friends or neighbors over. But rather that when we do so, it isn’t sacrificial in nature and garners much less spiritual reward than what Jesus was teaching. Further reading of this passage tells of a great banquet given, and how each invited guest made an excuse why they couldn’t attend. And so, the host had them go and invite people from the streets to come sit at this beautiful feast. The analogy is wrapped up in the message of the gospel, and how people make excuses for turning away the invitation of Jesus to “come”. The lost and lowly are willing, because they acknowledge their need of Jesus. 

I’ve not had many turn away my invitations for a meal or a boat ride on the lake. Most people come, because we share a mutual love for one another. But the gospel can be lived out best when I invite people that don’t know me or love me. People that need to hear about the love of Jesus, and see it displayed in my home. There is a point to hospitality, and it’s in our testimony for Christ, and how it has changed not only our home, but our lives. When I think of the truth of this, I am ashamed at how little I have practiced the gospel in my guest list. I’ve been given the best news ever, and yet I often gravitate toward those that share in the good of the gospel message with me. 

As we celebrate Christmas this season, there are those that are in need—in need of company, love and even those who are hungry. Some will not be comfortable to come to us, but we can follow the example Jesus has given, and go to them. We hold something better than a hot meal, or some cash, or a warm coat—we hold the hope of our Savior. Yet by providing the needs of those who hunger or have no home, we are sharing the love of Christ. And for others, we may extend an invitation to our homes in hopes of establishing a relationship that will lead them to hunger for Jesus. We have something so valuable, and yet we are surrounded by those who need it, but don’t realize their great need.

Is your home a place that’s open to any who will come? If so, then your home is similar in nature to heaven—a place open to any who will accept the invitation of Jesus through His death on the cross. I confess that my guest list needs a transformation, and that as a hostess, I need to step out of my comfort zone more often than I have in the past. I’m often settling for an earthly reward when I can go for so much more—being “repaid at the resurrection of the just”. Having a hospitable nature means I’m willing to show hospitality to all—not just those I choose to. May we take this parable of Jesus and open our homes to not only our family and friends, but to those who have needs, especially those who are in need of the best news of all: the gospel! Just as Jesus has invited us to “come”, let’s extend that same invitation so that others may see His very nature displayed in our actions and want to know more about our Savior.

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