Once again…Welcome to my house…

Sally - our homeDo you believe in hospitality? How much time do you spend opening your home to others? How often do you invite others to your home for meals or studies or simply to spend time building relationships? How do you feel when you are welcomed into someone’s home? Have you ever been invited into a home to eat a meal, pray, sing, or study?

  • There is an emanation from the heart in genuine hospitality which cannot be described, but is immediately felt and puts the stranger at once at his or her ease. ~ Washington Irving
  • There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us. ‘Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night’s lodging. ‘Tis better to be hospitable to one’s good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion.  We must be as courteous to a person as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 1 Peter 4:8–108 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

Acts 12:1212 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.

Acts 16:1515 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

Galatians 6:1010 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Romans 12:1313 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Hebrews 13:22 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

While I believe that human nature has faced many of the same challenges, albeit in different forms, over the centuries, I do see one area that seems to have become a casualty of the changes in our society: time. We have the same 24 hours in a day that mankind has had for centuries, but we seem driven to fill our hours with far more activities than ever before. In many ways, time is a casualty of progress. Time in our homes, time to relax, time for sharing and building relationships has been lost in our society of scattered lives. Unfortunately, this is a problem not only faced by those of the world, but also by Christians caught up in the rat race of modern life.

Why should we open our homes to saints and strangers? Simply stated it is a command of God. While many excuses and rationalizations are offered, there is simply no valid excuse for a lack of hospitality. The scriptures clearly teach us to be hospitable: first to brethren, next to strangers (in addition to the verses above, there are verses at the close of the article for further consideration). When we understand that hospitality is not optional, we will find a way to make it a part of our lives.

A good example of hospitality is found in Amish life, where homes are often open and welcome to visitors. One only has to read material written by the Amish to understand one of the reasons that they reject modern conveniences which we deem important. They reject the things they believe may cause their lives to become fragmented, things that may tear apart families, and things that may discourage constant association with families and friends. The Amish still pile in their buggies to go and visit one another. They make the time to sit, visit and become kindred spirits with one another. They also spend a lot of time working together. They do not work to be finished, they work because it is worthy; one of their sayings is “Hands to work, hearts to God.” They share their lives in a meaningful way, not merely a handshake and a smile three times a week. Homes are neat and orderly, children are trained to pick up after themselves. What does this order accomplish? It gives them the time to associate with one another. Many who have been raised Amish, but never converted (thus not dis-fellowshipped) say that the single thing they missed the most when they left to live “in the world” was the peace that comes when there are no distractions such as the telephone, radio, or television.

Let me digress for a bit and make something clear. I am actually a big fan of social networking and have several stories of great relationships built that were first established online! I am not suggesting that we give up technology, that we must all go tv-free and anti-iThings. We have several close friends who live great distances, that we may have never met without the inter webs and that we would not be able to nurture relationships with nearly as well without technology. Still, online relationships are not meant to replace what is gained by sharing our lives with one another in person.

So, what does Amish life have to do with Biblical hospitality? Their concerns about distractions have come to pass, and it goes far beyond technology! Due to many life choices, modern lives have become fragmented. Interestingly enough, those considered primitive by our society (the Amish and many third world countries) have not lost the art of hospitality, the beauty of an open home. They have friends over for supper, to play games, or just to visit. It is a part of their culture, and because they live ordered lives, it all fits together. This is not to say that we cannot also enjoy our friends and families and include technology. We are an iStuff family and we can enjoy one another both totally interacting and hanging out relaxing on various iThings, even including iThings in our activities. When you host friends, some will be comfortable with iThings involved and some will not (many are strongly offended by the use of iThings and other forms of technology during activities). Know your friends and make your home a place where you can enjoy one another’s company and forge friendships that bring love and encouragement for years to come!

What does over-scheduling have to do with hospitality? We do not have to cut ourselves off from the world like the Amish to keep our lives from becoming fragmented. We can learn to say “No” to life on the run. A popular sticker says, “Why do they call me a homemaker when I’m always in the car?” This is sadder than it is funny. In order to “keep the home” and “show hospitality” you need to be at home. Too many families are so wrapped up in other pursuits that they simply fail to make the time and use their energy to open their home! If you are overwhelmed with so many things that you cannot be hospitable, then you are far too busy. There are many good ways to serve. There are many good things to be busy about. There is time for entertainment and relaxation. Sometimes you have to choose one good thing over another, but you must always choose to include practicing hospitality!

What do habits and orderliness have to do with hospitality? The state of the home (it’s too dirty, it’s embarrassing, it’s not fancy, it’s not big enough) is often used as an excuse to avoid hospitality. First of all, let me say that we have been in clean homes and messy homes and we have been thankful for hospitality in both cases. Opening your home doesn’t mean that you should seek to attain House Beautiful and seek to awe everyone with your amazing skills. To some, housekeeping and homemaking come more naturally and established habits make keeping an orderly home a rather simple process. To others, housekeeping is an overwhelming never-ending drudgery or an unnecessary burden. Whether you can relate to one of these types or fall somewhere in the middle, you can and should still open your home. Your visitors (whether friends or strangers) are not there to inspect and critique your housekeeping — they are there for you to serve as you welcome them into your home and your life! This can happen in a House Beautiful or a hovel. It’s not about the types of abode, but the hearts of those who abide there!

If you are not comfortable in your mess, and wish to establish habits that will make housekeeping easier, the Bible has much to say about industry and order. There are many good books on de-cluttering, piles of websites and blogs, and there is an entire series HERE that I wrote to share my own housekeeping tips. With guidance and repetition, even a 15 month old child can learn that “everything has a place and that is where it goes when we are finished with it.” No one has to live in a mess, one simply needs to take control and get organized. This is really the key to having the time and energy to open your home. When one has everything in order (a routine, a clean well-organized home, and well trained children), there is not a lot of time wasted running around frazzled. When a family has a routine that works, they are not so overwhelmed with a messy home, a chaotic schedule, and unruly children that they feel that they cannot open their homes!

Many women open their homes during all seasons of their lives: pregnancy, nursing babies, high maintenance toddlers, busy husbands, small homes, little money. Bachelors, singles, and families large and small – anyone can be hospitable! If opening your home is important to you, and it will be if following God’s commands is a priority, you will find a way to do it! Spending time with likeminded Christians is a wonderful way to encourage and edify, it is also a wonderful way for the world to know us, “by our love for one another.”

Hospitality does not have to include a huge feast; it is simply opening our home to others (believers and unbelievers, friends and strangers), and offering what our talents’ allow. With toddlers and babies around, it is a good idea to make sure that dinners for guests are simple—this allows pregnant or nursing mothers the chance to open their homes with much less effort. Often desserts can be prepared ahead of time. Crock pots and casseroles make easy meals. Children can help prepare food, husbands can throw burgers on the grill, and friends can contribute parts of the meal. Small children can set the table and welcome guests, and many wonderful friends have been made while doing dishes after a get-together.

Resolve yourself to become hospitable today! Open your home for praying, for singing, for games, for celebrations, for serious gatherings and for fun! Hospitality most certainly does not require hours of slaving in the kitchen! Plan a gathering and watch your brethren (and the lost and needy and lonely) enjoy themselves! What a blessing this can be!

Matthew 25:35–4035 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Luke 14:12–1412 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 be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Acts 2:45–4745 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 20:17–2417 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Acts 10:24, 3324 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends….33 So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.

1 Timothy 3:22 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.

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