THE LOST ART OF HOSPITALITY

Jun
2017
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“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” (Romans 12:13)

One of the best compliments I can ever receive is after someone has been to my home, they express appreciation for my hospitality.  Recently, I had a group of friends over for a dinner. I furnished a few items, but the other attendees also brought various side dishes to share. It worked out really well, and there was a lot of great food. Prior to the occasion, there had been a lot of discussion about whether we should meet at a restaurant or gather at a home. Then one of the friends made the statement that it is “more intimate” when we get together at someone’s home. She meant that it was more heartfelt and easier to have conversation in that setting than it would be at an eatery. In some ways, the practice of hospitality has grown to be a lost art. It has somehow become less bothersome to go out to a restaurant than invite people over, clean up the house, and cook for them. For me, it is pleasing to have others visit in my home. Even if it does require some effort of preparation, there is a feeling of fulfillment in being able to provide a place of comfort for others. God’s Word tells us: “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:16).

I recently heard the story of an employee at an entertainment venue where parents invite the friends of their children for birthday parties or other special occasions. One of the mothers complimented a young man who worked at the establishment on how hospitable he was with the guests.  He indicated that he was just doing his job while earning money for school, and he stated that he appreciated her comments because very few people ever said much to him. To encourage him, she said, “But just think, here you are being so gracious in this job you probably don’t like all that much. Can you imagine how well you are going to do if you apply the same enthusiasm someday to a job you really like?”  It made the young man’s day.  Contrast that with the attitude of an acquaintance of mine who invited a former coworker to stay with their family anytime she was passing through the area for her new traveling job. After she took them up on the offer twice within the same year, they complained that the former coworker had taken advantage of their generosity. I couldn’t help but remember the scriptural passage, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).

Part of the challenge of hospitality is to extend your graciousness to strangers. Jesus stated it this way: “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:12-14). I am reminded of the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). While most of us concentrate on the example set by the passer-by to help someone who was in distress, we forget the lesson that we can also learn from the innkeeper who served as the host and caretaker after the Samaritan departed. While he was given a stipend to take care of the injured man – he took on the greatest responsibility, having no assurance whether he would ever be fully reimbursed (even though the Samaritan gave indications he would do so).

The Greek word “hospitality” is translated to mean “love of strangers.” In the Old Testament, the prophet Elisha was shown hospitality by a wealthy woman who provided food and lodging for him whenever he passed through (2 Kings 4:8-17). Jesus and His disciples depended entirely on the hospitality of others as they ministered from town to town. The essence of hospitality is showing kindness and compassion.  It is a symptom of the joy that is found within our heart and resides deep within one’s soul. When we realize that God constantly shows grace toward us, we also come to understand that receiving God’s generosity deteriorates and dies if He doesn’t flourish in our own hospitality to others. It’s an intimacy we can comprehend only when we truly recognize Him through the expression of our faith.

REFLECTION: Can you reflect on a time when a complete stranger displayed graciousness on your behalf? How can we maintain a constant attitude and practice of hospitality for others? Are there ways we might demonstrate a readiness to welcome people who aren’t ordinarily part of our lives?

A NEW LOOKUP  DEVOTION IS UPLOADED EACH WEEK. THE NEXT WEEKLY POSTING WILL BE ON SAT., JULY 1, 2017.  COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.

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  1. pelicanflies

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