Tricia and I host many people in our home. This week alone we have had 7 people sleeping in our home and another 15 through for meals and company at various levels. It is just a big part of our life. So, through the years we have learned how to grow in true hospitality. We care a lot less about impressing people now than we used to. If you visit us, we want to love your heart, not impress your eyes or your palate. I read this on the Resurgence Blog and thought it was so good! I adjusted it a bit and am reposting it. Perhaps you too will enjoy it.
Often when we talk about hospitality, we think of “entertaining.” But entertaining has little to do with real hospitality if the goal is to impress others rather than to serve. How do you know if you are being hospitable or just entertaining?
You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Lev. 19:34)
What are the first thoughts that come to mind when you think about hospitality?
Is it freshly folded towels and breakfast buffets at hotels, or a fancy dinner that you’ve prepared in your home for your closest friends?
Though these may be expressions of hospitality, they don’t really get to the heart of hospitality. True hospitality is sacrificial, uncomfortable, and does not seek to impress others. Hospitality flows from a hospitable heart. It is more about your open heart and home, not your impressive entertaining skills.
True hospitality is sacrificial, uncomfortable, and does not seek to impress others. Hospitality is when we provide for the needs of others by giving of ourselves—even something as simple as our attention in a warm conversation.
What is biblical hospitality?
In the Bible, the original Greek word for hospitality is philoxenia, which means love of strangers (Rom. 12:13). Hospitality is also framed as a means of honoring and loving God by meeting the needs of the poor (Prov. 14:31).
Biblical hospitality is:
- To be practiced without grumbling, complaining or thought of reward (1 Pet. 4:9).
- Literally, “a love for strangers” (Heb. 13:1–2)
- Treating fellow believers (Rom. 12:3; 1 Tim. 3:2), widows, orphans (1 Tim. 5:1–16), unbelievers (Luke 5:29), the poor and needy (Luke 14:12–14), missionaries (Matt. 10:9–11; Luke 10:5–16), foreigners, immigrants, refugees (Gen. 18:1–22), and even enemies (Rom. 12:20) as if they were your very own family.
- Helping the poor with no expectation of repayment (Prov. 19:17).
- Meeting the basic needs of others. (e.g., preparing food, providing lodging, giving physical protection, sharing material possessions, and encouraging and sharing the love of Jesus.
Often when we talk about hospitality, we think of “entertaining.” But entertaining has little to do with real hospitality. Secular entertaining is a terrible bondage. Its source is human pride. Demanding perfection, fostering the urge to impress, it is a rigorous taskmaster that enslaves. In contrast, scriptural hospitality is a freedom that liberates.
Entertaining says, “I want to impress you with my beautiful home, my clever decorating, my gourmet cooking.” Hospitality, however, seeks to minister. It says, “This home is not mine. It is truly a gift from my Master. I am his servant, and I use it as he desires.”
Biblical hospitality is the outpouring of mercy and grace to others without expectation for reciprocation.
As we prepare our homes for hosting a dinner, we also can prepare our hearts to serve those who enter. As Karen Mains writes, “Hospitality does not try to impress, but to serve.”
How do you know if you are being hospitable or just entertaining? Here are some great indicators....
- Entertaining: I want to look good
- Hospitality: I want Jesus to look good
- Entertaining: Emphasis on food or outer appearance
- Hospitality: Emphasis on the hearts of those in your home
- Entertaining: Preoccupied or apologetic about messes
- Hospitality: Humbled by the mess and can still serve
- Goal of Entertaining: To impress
- Goa of Hospitality: To serve