Why should you be hospitable?
You’ve spent hours cleaning your house, and there are still toys everywhere, dishes in the sink from your husband’s lunch, and you spot crumbs on the kitchen floor. Your baby is fussing and wanting to be held, but you still need to finish chopping a salad or making a sauce for the elaborate dish you’re making. What will my guests think of me if I’m still cooking when they arrive? If this sauce burns? If they see the crumbs on the floor or the dishes in the sink? If my baby is not perfectly happy when they step in the door? You begin to ask yourself a million questions, and stress and doubt begin to creep in.
You ask yourself, Why am I doing this?
The second time we ever had guests into our home after we got married, I asked myself this same question. I had only been in Romania for about two weeks, and I still didn’t know what I was doing. I agreed to have a couple over from the congregation one Wednesday night when I didn’t have anything in the apartment to cook, and the only food I had prepared was a spicy lentil stew, and Romanians typically do not like anything even slightly spicy. I was not comfortable with going to the store by myself yet, so Sam walked with me to get ingredients for soup and bread. Once the food situation was solved I began to worry about other things, such as how clean our house was, whether or not everything was in proper working order (such as the toilet or air conditioner), and of course, the fact that the couple only spoke Romanian, and I only knew two-weeks worth of the language.
I had a minor breakdown before we left to go to Bible study, wondering why I was doing this again?
First of all, being hospitable does not mean you must have a clean house or serve a fancy, elaborate dish. Second, there are many reasons for showing hospitality both for you and your guests. Here are just four reasons to overcome your stress, doubts, and worries and be hospitable.
- God commands us to show hospitality
There are direct commands and examples of hospitality throughout the scriptures, such as the example of Abraham in Genesis 18, and the command in Hebrews 13:12 to show hospitality to strangers in case we entertain angels as Abraham did. I Peter 4:9 tells us as Christians to be hospitable to one another without complaint, and Romans 12:13 also reminds us to be hospitable.
In addition to these examples, we can learn hospitality from the character of God. As Christians, our goal should be to imitate Him, and He is the perfect example of hospitality. He has created a beautiful earth for us and welcomes us into His family to partake in His feast, and He is preparing the ultimate home for us to welcome us into someday.
2. Hospitality is an excellent way to build relationships.
A wise Christian woman once gave me some advice on being a preacher’s wife, and she said whenever her family began working with a new congregation they made sure to have every family over for dinner at some point to get to know them. We implemented this practice in Romania, and we are trying to do it now (we’re still working through the list!) and I can attest to the truth of this advice. There is something about welcoming someone into your home and sharing a meal that bolsters a relationship.
3. Hospitality allows you to serve and grow.
Having people in your home is not easy. You may spend days cleaning the house or hours preparing food. You may only spend a few minutes on each. You may struggle with keeping the conversation interesting, continually checking to see if everyone is participating, or you may chat the evening away with ease. But no matter what, showing hospitality is a sacrifice and an opportunity for growth. It will not only bless those you welcome into your home; it will bless you and your family by giving to others.
Back in Romania, that second time I had people in my home when we left Bible study to eat together in our apartment the couple thanked us again and again, the excitement showing on their face. They stopped on the way to buy me a big bouquet of red flowers and ooed and aahed over our apartment. We figured out what to talk about and how to talk to each other, and they didn’t even laugh when I told them I was 12 instead of 20. When they left, they thanked us profusely and promised to have us into their home soon.
Our time together did strengthen our relationship, and the result was more than worth the stress leading up to it.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but these are the main three reasons our family continues to show hospitality.
Do you have any “whys” to add to the list? Why do you show hospitality?