Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.
I received the following comment this week on one of our posts on this topic of hospitality, and it really struck a cord in my heart. I felt I could not let it pass without addressing a key issue here.
Ugh…hospitality. I am THE WORST at it. I really detest it. Just being honest. I’m a stressed-out wreck, blowing up at my husband and kids. It’s just a giant culmination of everything that I’m horrible at – keeping our house clean, prepping meals, conversation, everything. It’s my number one surefire way to have a panic attack….
My heart really goes out to this sister. I know firsthand the struggles and challenges that come our way when faced with the uncomfortable situation of stepping outside our comfort zone to extend a spirit of hospitality. I know how easily it is to focus on the details rather than the heart of the matter. But, let us focus first of all on God’s amazing grace is which is totally accessible to us all. He commissions and equips us for the task and gives us the grace to step forth in faith to respond in action. It cannot be done on our own strength, but only through His sustaining grace.
But the truth is…cultivating a lifestyle of hospitality is what we were made for. We miss the point when we view hospitality simply as a culmination of cleaning our house, making a meal, leading in conversation, etc. What really is the giant culmination of hospitality?
It is a demonstration of the gospel, a visual picture of God’s love, a working out of His love in and through our lives. When we focus on the details instead of the heart of it’s purpose, we have started focusing on ourselves and have forgotten the gift of grace and hospitality that we truly have received. Jesus extended hospitality to us by welcoming us into His family. We were completely undeserving recipients of such grace.
Honestly, a lifestyle of hospitality is not just something we can tack on our our overly busy schedules. It should define our schedules. It should be the primary focus to which all of the other events in our lives circle around. It’s not an optional activity. It’s what our purpose is on this earth – to be ministers of the gospel. To love on the lost souls around us so they might see the true love of Christ. It’s not about having the perfect words to speech. It’s not about being comfortable. It’s not about perfection. It’s about letting Christ shine through our life and witness. It’s about be-friending the lonely, widowed, divorced, homeless, hungry, and letting them taste a bit of Christ’s love.
Luke 10:27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Reality is.. hospitality is uncomfortable. I am far from an outgoing girl myself. I prefer being myself. Maybe that is why I write. I am not a social butterfly. It is a struggle for me. I fear having unbelievers in my home. It makes me far from comfortable. But reality is...if we truly desire to follow Christ, the Christian walk IS far from comfortable. Jesus’ life on this earth was far from comfortable. He had no where to lay His head most of the time. He was continually giving ceaseless hours in service to others. When we focus on being comfortable we miss out on the point of our existence on this earth. We have been recipients of the beautiful grace of the gospel. Jesus loved us to such an extent that He willingly set aside heaven’s glory, came to earth as a lowly babe born in a stable, lived in a human body, endured every temptation common to man, poured out his life in healing and ministering to the lowest of the low, and finally was rejected and suffered the most horrendous of deaths. All for ME and YOU!
1 John 3:17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
I receive this mercy and grace freely. It is a result of nothing that I could have possibly done. Therefore, to follow Christ means I am privileged to pass on that gift of love to others that has been so graciously poured out on my life. If we forget this, we will look no different from the world. The demonstration of Christian love is what sets us apart from the world. The world should see a visible difference in our lives. Otherwise our lives will be lived for naught. There will be no eternal fruit born from our existence. We are strangers and aliens passing through, and the reality of it is, if God has truly transformed our hearts, we will see the beauty of His love and eagerly desire to demonstrate that to others around us – especially the lowly, poor, sick, and needy – the unsaved around us.
We have been given a gift. To hoard it to ourselves will result in a wasted life. This is a short and precious life.
Hebrews 13:16, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
I am speaking to myself here. I am just as easily consumed with the details than anyone else. I bring no condemnation to the table for there is none in Christ. I only want to challenge us all to not waste our lives. Cultivating a heart of hospitality, a lifestyle of generosity, is the purpose of my existence.This is why God blessed us with a home…to share this blessing with others. This is honestly why we moved into the city…we needed to be stretched outside our comfort zone. We needed to be confronted with the reality that there are numerous people who are struggling, lost, and hurting. We needed to see it face to face…so we could be challenged to get off our comfortable couches and labor for the cause of the gospel and God’s kingdom. This is all that will count in this life.
James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Will you join me? Will you commit to practicing a lifestyle of generosity so that our gracious God might be mightily glorified? I don’t have it all figured out. I still struggle. But in our weakness His power and grace is made manifest. I cannot receive any glory for myself, because He enables me to walk each step of the way, to prepare every meal, to step out in faith to invite the hurting, and to be willing to open my doors to embrace the hungry. My foundation and hope rest on the fact that I am a recipient of grace. My greatest purpose and mission is to pass it along. Everything in this life is a gift -from my home, to my possessions, to my financial resources, to my unique giftings. God designed us to open these gifts and to freely share them with others. To pass them on…not to hoard them to ourselves. For this is where the blessing is!
To open your doors to a stranger, is to pass on the gift. To bring a meal to a family in need, is to pass on the gift. To offer a smile to the checker at the grocery store is to pass on the gift. To set aside a portion of your income to give to the needy around the world, is to pass on the gift. When the reality of this sinks into our hearts, the practicals and little details of hospitality fall into place. They are no longer so stressful. When we embrace our gospel witness, the details seem minuscule compared to the cause of the gospel.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Let’s let go of the excuses, we all have them. We need to confess and forsake them. We need to lay them down at the foot of the cross. They simply separate us from God. They separate us from all that is good that He has is store for us. When we allow them to blind our path, we miss out on being recipients of the promise of blessing that He has for us. We need God’s mercy to embrace His purpose for our lives. We need His grace to live out the gospel!
He has loved you so much…how can you share that love with another today?
Matthew 25:35-40 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, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 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.’