I love the idea of being hospitable but, when push comes to shove, introverted me would rather retreat deeply into my home and myself, citing some need for self-care or boundaries. I have board upon board of ideas for recipes to make, parties to host, and a home to decorate perfectly.
If you search “hostess” your Pinterest feed will populate with a how to make all of this envy-worthy – your home, your food, and your looks.
But that’s not what hospitality is about. Hospitality is a fiercely-spiritual issue.
For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. – Titus 1:7-8 ESV
It isn’t an issue of having a home perfectly crafted, it’s a heart condition. It’s a spirit that says, “Here I am! Use me! Use this house.”
One of the markers of our faith is our reputation for being hospitable. It’s a qualification given to distinguish those who are able to be leaders in the Church. They must be hospitable.
So why is it such a struggle?
Why do you fight in opening our doors, in opening ourselves, up to those around us?
It is a constant battle to surrender self, for others. Hospitality demands that of us. We can’t hide away, but must be open and vulnerable with our times and our selves.
Hospitality demands humility.
True hospitality means that we have to offer up who we are and can’t maintain the appearance of who we wish to be. It means we open our homes and offer ourselves, without pretending.
When we open our homes and our lives to those around us, they see the good and the bad. They see our strengths and our weaknesses. We can serve as an encouragement, and allow them to encourage the weakness we have.
Hospitality isn’t about arranging a home that makes other’s envious, it’s about opening our homes to show others the heart we have for who God is and what He has done.Hospitality isn’t about arranging a home that makes other’s envious, it’s about opening our homes to show others the heart we have for who God is and what He has done. Click To Tweet
We don’t offer hospitality as an end in itself, we do it to glorify our Lord and express love for our neighbors.
While this sometimes looks like trying to make your home particularly lovely, it often looks simply inviting people to join you in your day to day life.
I’ve seen this modeled in beautiful, vulnerable ways.
Friends have invited me over to join them while they cook, they’ve invited me to join them in grocery shopping, and they’ve welcomed me into their home with a meal of leftovers and popcorn. It’s always been delightful. Never have I thought that these moments were a waste but a beautiful act of being welcomed into someone’s life as part of their family.
I don’t want to invite people over to serve the leftovers I was going to feed my family. I don’t want them to know that, at the end of a Thursday, I’m tired and want to eat something easy. But I’ve seen the beauty of friends who don’t feel the need to put forth a facade and simply open their doors and offer themselves, welcoming me as one of their own.
Because I am welcomed, like family, I feel like I can be vulnerable, like with family.
When I lived in Hawaii, far away from the family, these friends became my family. They drove with me to difficult doctors appointments and brought me meals when I recovered from surgery. Because they had welcomed me into their home, in an unpretentious manner, I was able to accept their help when I was at my weakest.
Hospitality makes the stranger amongst us family by inviting them in and treating them like family.Hospitality makes the stranger amongst us family by inviting them in and treating them like family. Click To Tweet
This allows us to break down walls and support one another through the ups and downs of life as the Body of Christ.
Because I don’t just need dinner companions, I don’t just need friends who have seen the way my laundry piles up, I need friends who can speak into the brokenness of my life and point me to Jesus. How could I ever let someone in to see the brokenness of my heart if I’m unable to even let them see the inside of my home?
Hospitality exposes our priorities.
Hospitality is a spiritual matter not only because it allows us to be humble and vulnerable before our fellow believers but because it exposes the true state of our heart.
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? – James 2:1-4, ESV
Hospitality is where we see, in most modern cultures, how we live out this command. For some of us, it might not look like separating the poor from the wealthy. In my life, I’ve found that I am resistant to opening my doors to those with outward sin but more than willing to sit down with those harboring acceptable, less obvious, American sins. I spent years hiding behind verses like Proverbs 13:20, saying that I didn’t want to spoil my reputation.I don’t just need dinner companions, I don’t just need friends who have seen the way my laundry piles up, I need friends who can speak into the brokenness of my life and point me to Jesus. Click To Tweet
But that’s exactly what I was concerned about, my reputation, not my holiness. I wanted to be seen as holy because of the company I kept instead of taking on the difficulty of loving others in the name of Jesus as sinners did.
Christians are called to hospitality because it is a good indicator of where our hearts are at. I realized quickly that my heart sought “justice” and outward behavior modification over mercy and Gospel transformation. The people we let into our home and into our lives make this quite clear.
Hospitality reveals our blind spots and judgments. When we look at who we are inviting into our homes, we see what we’re prioritizing. Status? Wealthy? Reputation? The needy? The poor in spirit? The grieving? The people we invite into our lives mirror the inward priorities of our hearts.
Hospitality also shows our heart for God.
Jesus said one of the primary distinctive of those who follow Him would be hospitality to the needy. In Matthew 25, Jesus said that when we clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and offer a drink to the thirsty, it is as if we are offering it to Him. Each and every time we invite someone in need into our homes, we are inviting Christ into our homes.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. – Hebrews 13:2, ESV
I used to look at this passage in Hebrews and think it was a nice saying for a different time. But I don’t think the rest of the chapter, calling us to continue to love one another, to visit those in prison, to keep marriage holy, is outdated which leaves me to believe that this part isn’t either.
Hospitality might feel uncomfortable and awkward. It might look like opening our doors to strangers and trusting that God will work in the situation. I watched a former pastor and his wife open their home to literal strangers on multiple occasions. They lived and they weren’t taken advantaged of. Instead, they simply had an amazing opportunity to live out the Gospel and to love their neighbor with the same love they had been shown.
It was affirming and encouraging to see that the overseer of our church didn’t just embrace hospitality when it was easy, when it was neatly packaged, but when it came with language barriers, the discomfort that comes from a total stranger being in your home, and the inconvenience of suddenly having another person around.We don’t offer hospitality as an end in itself, we do it to glorify our Lord and express love for our neighbors. Click To Tweet
But this opening of their home and life set a beautiful example of what it means to steward a home and to use it for the glory of God.
By God’s grace, I strive to have a home as welcoming as theirs.
Hospitality might now look like Pinterest, but it is still beautiful. Because hospitality, true Christian hostility, is life-giving. It grows our souls and points us to the one who offered all on our behalf as we offer what we have in service to one another. It is a reminder over and over again of what it cost our Lord to say “This is my Body and my Blood.” When we open our homes, we not only open up the door to friendship, community, and love, but we open up the door to the very One who has opened up heaven to us.