Hospitality: The Demonstration of the Gospel

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.’

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About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

26 Responses to Hospitality: The Demonstration of the Gospel

  1. Betty April 26, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    Hi there,

    Thank you for your blog- it has been very encouraging!
    I just have one question- have you ever felt like your hospitality was “being taken advantage of”, if there can be such a thing? Although the real struggle is to begin welcoming people into our home in the first place, sometimes for certain people there’s the fear that they will “invite themselves over” to a point that we cannot handle, and that we will seem unloving for drawing boundaries at that point. Or perhaps this should be a heart issue to work on…


  2. Sarah Sonke April 26, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    This was such an inspiring article. This is exactly what the Lord has been teaching me—all summed up into a blog post. AND this morning I read Matthew 25 in my quiet time; it was wonderfully convicting. I think maybe the Lord is speaking to me. Thank you for your post.

    My friend Andrea and myself refer to you as “our friend Lindsay” now because of all the wisdom you have shared with us, so thank you! It is a delight to be able to read these posts that are so Gospel-centered every day!

    Keep on writing for the Lord’s glory and for your joy!


  3. alicia April 26, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    WOw! great post. I admire your humble heart Lindsey, praying for your ministry through this blog. Your blog has made a huge impact in my life and I am thankful for your discipleship to me.

  4. Darlene April 26, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    This is my first time here, I look forward to reading all the great ideas, thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Sheri April 25, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    Another enemy: Magazine-itis (wanting your house to always look like a magazine).

    • Maura April 26, 2011 at 6:41 am #

      Magazines are evil, huh? When we are young girls, we want to look like the models in them. When we are older women we want our houses and gardens to look like the houses in the magazines.

  6. Sheri April 25, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    This is good. We do need to be hospitable. I love having people in my home, so I look for opportunities (or create them!). I must share my own struggles though. Homeschooling-wow, what a time commitment! Home Business-another big time commitment. Living far from town-getting into town to shop is another commitment of time. Husband not feeling well-he does what he can, but that leaves more for others to do when it’s time for having people in our home. We do not even participate in outside classes, sports, or music lessons outside our home, yet, I can barely squeeze everything in. I wonder if many of us are just too busy…trying to do too much. A wonderful godly man once told me, ‘we minister not out of need, but out of obedience’. Let us each make sure to not pile heavy burdens on ourselves that the Lord did not intend.

  7. Sally April 25, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    Thank you for your strong admonition. In so many ways I feel like the woman who posted. But I’m slowly learning 1. To tackle my home in small doses every day rather than waiting to “have time” to tackle the whole lot. This means I don’t have to tackle it to have people over. 2. Keep things simple so I don’t have to be overwhelmed. 3. Ignore the mess when people are here. That’s huge. I used to apologize up a storm. It only calls attention to the mess and my own discomfort. Something that has helped immensely is just having people for things that aren’t even “entertainment” oriented. My daughter teaches piano lessons here. Or practices for skits or performances with other kids. I tutor, and have had homeschool classes. I CAN’T always have the house in order for the parents who sit and wait. I often have an undealt-with pile on the table. I’ve even had – gasp! – socks and underwear on the loveseat waiting to be folded. This repition has been a tremendous help to me in not stressing about my less than stellar housekeeping. So my suggestion to the gal who stresses is to just do it, again and again!

  8. Amanda April 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    Loving this series! My husband is in the Army, and we are stationed overseas. There is NO end to the hospitality opportunities: newly-arrived families, foreign civilians who worship with us at chapel, single soldiers living in the barracks, new parents, the homesick, families packing up to move out, etc. Very often, too, this involves genuinely opening your home to meet needs, and not obsessing about a perfectly set table and a gourmet feast. I LOVE that you state frankly, hospitality cannot necessarily just be tacked-on to “our normal lives”. This is a very freeing reminder, and reminds me that if the hospitality won’t work with “THE schedule”, then perhaps the schedule has some problems? I’ve been thinking lots about Mary and Martha recently, and it strikes me that so often we Christian women pass judgement on Martha…but, then our way of avoiding her foibles is to simply avoid being hospitable instead of confronting the misplaced priorities that lead to that kind of ungracious attitude.

  9. Jaime Layton April 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    Thank you so much for doing these posts on Hospitality! I am the wife of a pastor so hospitality is near to my heart. I was somewhat disappionted when we came to our church a few years ago and I noticed that very little hospitality was happening. The “body of Christ” needs eachother. It is such a precious time to get to know people, and let them get to know you. One of the best and most helpful books on the topic is, “The Hospitality Commands” by Alexander Strauch.

    Thank you for encouraging us to be hospitable!

  10. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy April 25, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    What a sweet post. I love being hospitable, in theory–but I get bogged down on the practice! Thanks for making hospitality look so overwhelmingly inviting–and for making it seem so doable!!

  11. Megan April 25, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    Amen sister. I love to share food with our friends but I’m always embarrassed that our house isn’t as clean as it should be. When we submitted to God’s commands for hospitality I stresses out about my home being clean. But the more we welcome people into our home the more I realized that they don’t care what our little apartment looked like! (and that I was making them uncomfortable by apologizing for our mess). I am slowly becoming ok with our home not being perfect but only because we obeyed when it wasn’t comfortable. I am so thankful that the Lord is changing my heart and thankful for your encouragement to keep letting him!

  12. Meagan April 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    This makes me want to shout a loud AMEN! This is a perspective wake-up call. I’ve read a lot about family mission statements, how to make them ourselves, but this clearly shows that God already made the only mission statement we need. Perhaps instead of hospitality in the way, we have other things in the way of hospitality and those are the things that should be cleared off our schedules.

    Lindsay, I love your heart. :)

  13. Becky April 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    I’m not very comfortable socially either, and being a good housekeeper is not my strong point, but I find it much easier to make hospitality happen when I remember that it is a command “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” 1 Pt 4:9 and it’s even a character prerequisite for a widow to receive financial support from the church (1 Tim 5)! (I’d hate to be stuck in that situation and get denied because I didn’t show hospitality!) I just try to never say “no” when my husband asks if people can come over (I’m blessed with a hospitable husband), then do as much as I can to get the house ready, apologize for any obvious mess, and remember that no ones house is perfect :) .

  14. Susana April 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Thank you for speaking truth…thank you for letting the Lord use your gift of writing for Him. You are such a blessing. I am so glad that I found “Passionate Homemaking”. Please pray for me that I will have faith enough to believe that God will empower me to practice hospitality for Him, no matter how difficult I find it and that one day it will be my delight, my joy, my greatest weakness made perfect in His strength.

  15. Robin Russell April 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    I love having people over for meals. I love sharing in the struggles of others, but I can also relate to the woman who is overwhelmed by one more thing on her plate. I have learned when i am stressed out, unorganized, and my kids won’t give me two mintues to do anything. I have learned to cry out to the Lord. It is amazing when I am bogged down and I cry out to the Lord, he hears me! All of a sudden all my kids are napping, my house is picked up and organized, the laundry gets done, when I give all my cares to the Lord, he turns around and takes care of all the little stuff I thought would never get done!

  16. Debbie April 25, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    I appreciate so much your giving not only YOUR opinion about hospitality but basing it on God’s truth. As someone who’s older–with children grown and gone–I can say that hospitality gets easier with time. Practice makes it easier. You learn to let little things go. You realize the dishes will still be there afterwards. You find meals that are inexpensive, quick and easy and make those your signature dishes. We’ve found prayer to be a key element in hospitality…praying for guests before they sit around our table…asking them if there’s something we could pray for for them during the course of the evening. We find it important to be intentional in this…and it is becoming a more and more natural part of our times together. So don’t give up–younger women–keep opening your heart and your home. God will use it to touch others.

  17. Maura April 25, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    You said, “Honestly, a lifestyle of hospitality is not just something we can tack on our our overly busy schedules. It should define our schedules. ”

    Very true words.

  18. Katie April 25, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    What a great post! You are so right…creating a lifestyle of hospitality is what we were made for. It is so easy to get overcome with our own insecurities…and neglect the things God has called us to do.

  19. Sara April 25, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    I guess I need to start praying for more opportunities to share hospitality to strangers. I appreciate Ann’s comment about it could even mean having coffee with a friend. I have a friend coming over this week who is not a Christian and I have been thinking of our time together as an opportunity to shine the Lord’s love. I think it would be helpful to hear, though, different situations in which God has offered opportunities for you to offer hospitality to strangers, the poor and the needy? This is so outside of my comfort zone, but I don’t want it to be!
    In December, we were at Staples making copies and it took awhile to finish. While we were there, we met a teenage girl from a broken family who struck up a conversation with my teenage son. She was just going on and on about how nice things in our family seemed to be and before we left, she gave us her phone number and asked us to call. I just found her phone number the other day and we never called. I can’t help but feel that this was something that I should have followed through on…. Any comments on how I should have or still should handle that situation?

    • Samantha April 26, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

      Call her!! Let her see that you care. She was crying out for someone to love her, to make her feel welcome, to show her Jesus. Follow through on your feeling, let the Spirit guide you and give her love through you. Obey and be blessed!!

  20. Sheila April 25, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    Thank you so much Lindsay. You have no idea how incredibly encouraging it was to read this, to be spurred on in my faith towards a living and active faith, shown through these simple ways. What a blessing to bless in the name of the Lord!


  21. Ann Dunagan April 25, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    Another thought is that “hospitality” can start small, even going to coffee with a friend or meeting a friend with kids at a nearby park.

    My whole concept of “hospitality” changed when I was welcomed into this little shack in Mexico. This sweet woman just loved me. She offered for me to sit down on her one rickety stool, and she wanted to share the tiny bit of food she had. I was humbled, and challenged, because I didn’t think our apartment at that time was “good enough” for company. I was embarrassed by our ripped-up couch. And didn’t think I had enough to share. But this gracious woman, who had practically nothing, inspired me!!!

    Just like we teach our kids to share and to be nice, we can all do the same. Hospitality is not “foo-foo” frilly stuff, or trying to make ourselves look good. It’s simply loving others.

  22. Megan April 25, 2011 at 7:00 am #

    Wonderful article. So encouraging. These are the very things that the Lord has been putting on my heart over these last few years.

  23. Danielle April 25, 2011 at 6:38 am #

    You’re right, we ARE called to this. And for most, like me, it is not easy, but we need to cultivate it in our life. I am comforted by the knowledge that God can use such a weak, struggling vessel like me to reach out to people.

  24. Karyna April 25, 2011 at 6:26 am #

    I love your blog. Thank you for caring as much as you do about individuals and for being such a devoted disciple.