Jesus is our best example of what true hospitality looks like.
He didn’t have a physical home during His earthly ministry. So if He practiced hospitality, what does it involve without a house and food and well-planned parties?
Jesus showed hospitality to his disciples on the night He was betrayed. It’s called the Last Supper:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:1-5)
Hospitality As An Act Of Love
What motivated Jesus? Verse 1 tells us it was His love for His people. He loved them to the end. He loved till it hurt. He loved to His death! His love was sacrificial.
Sometimes, we think our hospitality is sacrificial when we run around like crazy, trying to make everything perfect. But is it truly sacrificial? Is it true hospitality?
I’m continually learning that it takes a completely different kind of effort, time, and energy to truly connect with a person on a relational level. That type of serving requires more sacrifice than cleaning my house or cooking up a storm – it’s more emotionally taxing, and requires more vulnerability on my part.
That’s the kind of love Jesus has for each of us, and for those whom we are called to serve.
Verse 4 tells us He laid His garments aside. This shows vulnerability, but also that He set aside His status and His “place at the table”, so to speak. He girded Himself for the purpose of serving others! This was an incredible act of humility on His part.
When I serve, do I lay aside my ideas of perfection and how I want others to perceive me? Do I think more of myself, or am I consumed with a desire to bless and minister to those whom I am serving?
I’ve been challenged to spend more time praying for those I’m serving, asking Him to increase the love I have for them, than I do planning the menu and cleaning the house and all of those other details.
By Him & For Him
How are we supposed to manage this kind of hospitality?
1 Peter 4:8-11 answers that:
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
God’s Word tells us we have already received the gift of Biblical hospitality. God has given us everything we need to fulfill what He has called us to (2 Peter 1:3). So we can live out Biblical hospitality by His grace, in the strength He supplies.
True hospitality is through Jesus for God’s glory (Romans 11:36). God is glorified when we put ourselves aside and let His Spirit take over (John 3:30). It’s about living by the Spirit, not the flesh (Galatians 5:16, Romans 8:5).
Restful, Graceful Hospitality
Am I ministering and serving on my own strength, or am is it an outpouring of the fullness of the Spirit I’ve received? We are to be “broken vessels”, allowing God to use us in our imperfections and weakness and allowing His Spirit to pour out through all the cracks and minister to those around us (2 Corinthians 4:1-12). If I’m trying so hard to “have it all together” and be completely in control, portraying a type of perfection, where does He fit in?
It’s a relief and a comfort to know that the pressure is off of us. We can’t perform enough. The work of the Lord in and through us accomplishes His goals. Oh! How exciting it is to see how He does it! It’s so often very different from our own ideas, isn’t it? (Isaiah 55:8)
The Prime Example
Jesus – not Martha Stewart, not the Pioneer Woman, not a magazine off the rack at the grocery store, nor a Pinterest session – is our prime example of true, loving, humble hospitality.
(I had the following notes in an old journal of mine. I have tried to find the source online, to no avail. I have done some paraphrasing and re-wording, but this list did not originate with me. If you know of where I might have come across it, please let me know! I want to give credit where credit is due!)
Jesus didn’t have a physical home, but He invites us to be at home with Him. To dwell with Him (John 15:4).
He offers the shelter of His wings to be our refuge (Psalm 91:4).
He nourishes us without food (John 6:35).
He refreshes us without water (John 7:37-38).
His very Word becomes our sustenance (Matthew 4:4).
He is the manna in our wilderness (John 6:30-33).
He has no table, but He has spread a banquet before us (Psalm 23:5).
He calls us to intimacy (John 15:15).
He entertains us with the mysteries of faith (1 Corinthians 4:1), songs of the Spirit (Zephaniah 3:17), signs and wonders (Acts 2:21-23) and stories (Matthew 22:1) and unexpected blessings.
He clothes us in robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).
He extended an eager welcome to us before we were even looking for Him (1 John 4:19).
He embraced us when we were filthy and oppressed and undeserving (Romans 5:8-11).
He is the Samaritan who does not pass by, who finds lodging for us in the warm inns by the way (Luke 10:25-37).
He waits for us even when we forget to wait for Him (Isaiah 30:18).
He is not afraid to accept our clumsy expressions of worship in spite of our imperfections and ugliness. He says, “Come. Come unto Me.” (Matthew 11:28)
How Hospitable Are You?
Take a step back and think about how you’ve been practicing hospitality. It’s not time to think about how well that new recipe turned out, or how coordinated your dishes are with your tablecloth.
Looking to Jesus as your example:
- Are others welcome in your home? Do they know they are welcome? What can you do to communicate an “open door” mentality?
- Are you a “safe place”? Can people be themselves and share openly with you without fear of judgment?
- Do friends and family members leave your company feeling refreshed, enriched, nourished in spirit? Who have you encouraged lately?
- Have you provided for someone in need recently?
- What are you doing to pursue deeper relationships? Who are you reaching out to? Do others know you’re sincerely interested in getting to know them more?
- Are you able to “entertain” others with stories of the goodness of God in your life? Are you willingly sharing real stories about your own experience rather than trying to hide the truth about your less-than-ideal circumstances? What can you talk about with the people in your circle of influence that might draw them nearer to Jesus Christ?
- Proverbs tells us that “love covers” (Proverbs 10:12, Proverbs 17:9)… Do you have a tendency to gossip? Is your speech seasoned with grace?
- When you serve others, is it with eagerness, or is it begrudgingly?
- Have you welcomed and shared your life with someone you wouldn’t normally reach out to? Someone who isn’t within your “comfort zone”?
Bottom line: Hospitality is about loving others. It’s the second greatest commandment. And we can’t do it well apart from our love for Jesus – those two go hand in hand.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
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