Hospitaliy...what does it look like to you? Webster's (1828) defines hospitality as
"The act or practice of receiving and entertaining strangers or guests without reward, or with kind and generous liberality."
To me, well, it's a heart issue. How we serve the Lord is reflected in how we reach out to the ones around us, how we welcome people into our lives and homes. I love to have people over. I enjoy preparing so that they will feel comfortable and relaxed in my home. I have, in the past, been so caught up in preparing in the physical, that I have often neglected the emotional and spiritual side of hospitality.
You see, the Lord, while I have been studying Proverbs 31, brought light and revelation knowledge to me about how I was reaching out and serving those around me. As I was studying the Word, I was also rereading Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. I love this book because it makes me stop and reevaluated parenting from a Biblical perspective. This passage hit me square between the eyes:
"Another home that has really inspired me is that of my friend Phyllis, who shares my mother's gift for hospitality. She always prepares for her guests ahead of time-lighting a fire in the fireplace, placing glowing candles throughout the rooms, turning on soft music, placing a plate of hot muffins on the coffee table-so that they always enter a room anointed with comfort. More important, though, is the way this woman greets her visitors. When I walk in her door, she always looks into my eyes with an expression that says, "I am so happy to see you!" Her warm embrace and welcoming words always give me the feeling that I, above all others am special to her. I know that Phyllis has to make a special effort to greet the many people who com in and out of her door the way. Her warm welcome is a reflection of the commitment in her heart." (pg. 162)
WOW! I was really feeling good about myself as I read the first 2 sentences! I do all of that...lighting candles, soft music...WAIT!!!!! I, in my busyness have forgotten to GREET my guest warmly! HEEELLLLOOOO...isn't that the point?! What good does it do to prepare my physical home for company, and then not warmly invite them in to enjoy? Not much! This passage has really resonated in my mind.
I am so thankful to serve a living God who loves me beyond comprehension and wants me to live to touch others for His glory. I am thankful that he is a God of second chances and that I am still learning from the Father. As soon as I read this passage, I wholeheartedly repented for being "Martha" too much and neglecting the heart of hospitality. You see, although it is nice for my guests to smell the candles and listen to the background music, they are not at my home for that reason. They are here to visit, to deepen friendships, seek council, laugh, cry, find hope and even bring hope and life through my doors to my heart! If I am not prepared to receive them with a cheerful, welcoming smile, I can guarantee that I have not prepared my heart either.
I have had many, many opportunities to practice what I am preaching! Praying for my guests while preparing my home to receive them, prepares my heart as well...and THAT changes everything. I still have to make a conscience decision to look up from what I am preparing, answer the door myself (instead of the children) and greet my guest with a hug and a smile. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's the truth. It's more important that all the little messes being picked up, or the coffee being ready or even the candles and music. It's what make drop-ins feel welcome and expected company know you have been awaiting their arrival.
In Proverbs 31, the Lord showed me again that showing hospitality to others begins in the home, showing love and grace to our families. It is extended out to friends, family and strangers. It's in the preparation, in our actions and in our mouths...
"She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness." Proverbs 31:15, 20, 21, 26
May your heart be turned toward the Lord as you show hospitality to those in your home and around your community. My kindness and wisdom be on your tongue and the heart of the Lord be in your preparations.