“Why do we have to clean when someone comes over?” asks my 5-year-old.
“Because it’s the kind and polite thing to do.” I respond.
“I don’t think we should have people over if we have to clean.”
“It’s not that simple. We like having people over, you enjoy your friends coming over to play with you and the Bible tells us that we have to show kindness to people like this. So go pick up your toys.” I tell him, as I scrub the pee off the toilet, for the millionth time.
While cleaning the toilet and preparing good food for the people who come into your home are nice gestures, they do not define what biblical hospitality really is at its core. Nor, are either required in order to extend hospitality.
Biblical hospitality is defined as, “the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way” and doing so because God commands us to.
Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 1 Peter 4:9
This is just one verse of many that tells us that we need to practice hospitality. But it also tells us what kind of attitude we need to have while doing so.
“First Peter 4:9 builds on the instructions to practice hospitality and reminds me that my attitude is of utmost important – I am to practice hospitality without complaining! This verse challenges me to conduct a heart search to discern what my attitude is and whether I am approaching this opportunity to minister enthusiastically (Colossians 3:23).” Practicing Hospitality, pg 23
You see, to my son, having to pick up the house isn’t worth it. He’d rather just go along his merry way, playing the day away. Wouldn’t we all? We can all fall into this trap of negative thinking.
We can think of numerous excuses why to not invite that family over for dinner…
-it’ll be too much work
-there’s not enough time to prepare
-we don’t have enough in common, what will we talk about??
– we don’t have enough dishes
-we don’t have nice things, they’ll judge us
-our house is too small
-I can’t cook very well
and on and on the list goes. Before we even get around to inviting a family over we have talked ourselves right out of it!
If we do extend the invitation, we have all of the negative thoughts listed above running through our head. Then the closer the night gets, we work ourselves up into an anxious mess and start complaining about the whole situation.
That right there is not obeying God’s command.
This is easy for me to do, I fret about all the little things. How the timing isn’t right, how I will need to make an extra trip to the grocery store, how my kids will go to bed late, you name it! I didn’t grow up in a home that had people over a lot and when we did it was usually a big party that we all had to pitch in and clean the entire house for. It was stressful to prepare for. Because of this, having people over does not come naturally to me. It is an area that I’ve had to purposefully work at.
Hospitality doesn’t need to be a 5-course meal, on your fancy china dishes. It doesn’t need to be 75 people over for a party. It isn’t about entertaining. And get this, your house doesn’t need to be spotless. Preaching to myself here!
Biblical hospitality isn’t about us. It isn’t about showcasing our homes and families. It isn’t about having people over to make ourselves look better, more prestigious or more giving than others. If that is our motive than we need to be doing a different kind of heart check.
Biblical hospitality is showering people with the love of Christ.
It’s about investing in the lives of others. Finding ways to pour ourselves into them.
Whether that be by having them over for dinner, bringing someone a meal, sending a thoughtful note in the mail, sending a care package to a missionary, or having a mom over for coffee while the kids play. There are many ways in which practicing hospitality can be done if we are looking.
If our attitude is in the right place, we will be looking.
So, while having a clean toilet is a perk, don’t let that stop you from inviting someone over on a whim. Show them love and they won’t even notice the dust collecting on your picture frames or the messy bathroom. And hey, if ordering a pizza is easier than do it!
Your turn! Do you practice biblical hospitality? Is it easy for you or do you find it a challenge?
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