'Tis the season to be hospitable.
One thing I love about the Christmas season is we tend to look over the fences that so often separate us from those near by and say, "Come on in." We host Christmas parties and dinners. We blow up the airbeds and set out the guest towels and invite family members from out of town to stay awhile. We bake. We clean. We decorate. We host.
All this is a very good thing! We tend to think of hospitality as a character trait reserved for those with natural Martha Stewart-like capabilities. But did you know the Bible urges all of us to demonstrate hospitality?
Romans 12:13 says, "Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality."
1 Peter 4:9 says, "Show hospitality to one another . . ." (But there's a catch. We'll get to that in a minute.)
When I make my home an inhospitable environment for the people I love most in order to make it welcoming for others, I'm missing God's heart for hospitality.
What is hospitality exactly? I like to think of it as providing a soft place to land in a world that is often hard to take. There are lots of verses throughout the entire Bible that encourage us to practice hospitality; especially toward those who belong to what Galatians 6:10 calls "the household of faith" (i.e. other Christians).
But let's get real. Those cookies don't bake themselves. Guests make messes. They upset routines. They give us the overwhelming urge to dust the baseboards. Christmas parties and dinners take a lot of time, money, and effort on our parts. The Food Network makes it all look so easy, but often it isn't.
I don't know about you, but as I seek to be hospitable toward others, I tend to be inhospitable toward the members of my own family. I bark out orders to my husband and children. I sigh heavily under the false sense that no one but me is doing any of the work. I grumble about the money spent, the time invested, the floors that need swept (again!).
Remember 1 Peter 4:9? I told you there was a catch. The entire verse reads,
"Show hospitality to one another without grumbling."
When I make my home an inhospitable environment (as in hostile, cold, and unwelcoming) for the people I love most in order to make it welcoming for others, I'm missing God's heart for hospitality.
Yes! Invite people over to your home. Yes! Seek to provide warm meals and warm fuzzies. Yes! Create a soft spot for others to land. But do it without grumbling. Because a peaceful home flows out of a peaceful heart.
Colossians 3:23–24 is a great mantra for each of us to adopt this holiday season:
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."
The goal of hospitality is not to win a prize for cleanest house, best meal, or coziest bed. The goal is to demonstrate Christ's love in practical and tangible ways. Since He is the One we are ultimately serving, in order to demonstrate true hospitality, His priorities (people), must become our priorities.
Don't work to earn gold stars and oohs and aahs this year. Work to put Christ on display.
So . . . seek to bless others during this busy season. Look for ways to show hospitality. But start with those closest to you. How can you demonstrate hospitality to your husband? Your children? Your co-workers?
And remember to give with a happy heart. A store-bought pie served with a smile is of much greater value than a homemade one made through gritted teeth. Don't work to earn gold stars and oohs and aahs this year. Work to put Christ on display. What could be better than that?
I'd love to hear all about your holiday plans. Tell me how you'll be showing hospitality toward others this year?