Thinking It Through: Opportunities in Hospitality
Thanksgiving is a time for extended families to gather and celebrate God’s goodness—across the land, people open their homes to family and friends on this day. Yet, sadly, this one-day abundance of hospitality is far from the norm. Even the most generous of homes on Thanksgiving Day may entertain no visitors during the rest of the year.
This is especially egregious when it occurs among Christians. The Bible urges all followers of Christ to practice hospitality (see Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:2, and 1 Peter 4:9). Christ Himself, even without a home to share, showed hospitality. For example, He fed the multitudes on two occasions, and He broke the bread and passed the cup at the last Passover that He celebrated with His closest friends.
So why is it that, even with these biblical precepts and exam- ples, our homes tend to be shut tightly against visitors on most days? Possibly, we think our home is in no fi t state to receive guests. Or we may have become overly possessive of our time and privacy, an attitude strongly encouraged by our culture. Perhaps we worry about the challenges inherent in developing relationships with others.
But we ought to overcome whatever roadblock is preventing us from obeying the biblical mandate to be hospitable. We might be encouraged to do so by the many opportunities for personal growth that present themselves when we are generous with our time and place.
For example, if I feel my home is too messy or too dirty to receive guests, then a desire to be more hospitable becomes an opportunity to develop better habits of cleanliness and tidiness. At the opposite extreme, if I can’t bear the thought of others bringing dirt and chaos into my otherwise well-ordered home, then being more hospitable might help cure me of possessiveness toward what is actually owned by God.
Sharing my home is a way of showing love. Jesus said that the second greatest commandment, after loving God, is loving my neighbor as myself. Opening the doors of my home to others is one way I can live out this commandment.
Additionally, hospitality affords the opportunity to deepen relationships. Even though I meet with my church family weekly, there is actually little time in the church setting for the hard work of personally encouraging and edifying one another. The warm, relaxed environment of a home offers a much better setting for these activities.
My home is a resource God has given to me. As with all such gifts, the Bible encourages me to share it with others. In the parable of the talents, the first man, who invested his God-given resources most wisely, was commended and, indeed, rewarded (Matthew 25:14–30). Having an open home is a way to be like this man—think of it as an investment opportunity.
In our home, my wife and I have lived by an open-door policy for many years. Family and friends know they are welcome to enter at any time without knocking, provided they announce themselves on the way in. Over time, this has led to a warm, inviting environment, many conversations, and deeper relationships. This policy was especially helpful for our children and their friends while they were growing up.
A consistent, long-term practice of hospitality can be draining, financially and emotionally. It requires sacrifices that are perhaps unwelcome. But it is also a practice that is full of opportunity and, over time, yields huge rewards. Hospitality, though clearly a Christian duty, is a faithful step in the giving of my heart to God. In the words of Isaac Watts’s hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”:
Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were an offering far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my heart, my life, my all!
Lord, open my heart. May I not clutch to myself what is yours. Help me take every opportunity to share with others what you have already so graciously shared with me. Please make my home a place of comfort, welcome, safety, and light—a place where your love has opportunity to shine and all are welcome.
Allan Wilks, CMML vice president, technology
Originally published in Missions magazine, November 2022. For more content, sign up for a free subscription (US) to Missions at CMML.us/magazine/subscribe.