I used to think that showing hospitality meant inviting people over and feeding them BBQ pork sandwiches with all the fixings or hosting an elaborate tea with homemade scones in honor of my friend's new baby, but sitting under the teaching of my pastor Francis Chan for nine years did something to me. For the first few years of my marriage, we lived in a tiny apartment with no yard. I was feeling pretty good when I decided to swallow my pride and host my parent's 30th wedding anniversary in our home where we squeezed in nearly 30 of their lifelong friends for dessert, reminiscing about the days when my parents drove too fast and ran with the wild crowd.
As a new mother, still searching for what it meant for me to be a woman by Biblical standards, I knew that hospitality was part of what God commanded me to display towards others. Except that the idea of showing hospitality didn't really cost me anything. I love to cook, bake, and plan events. My husband and I are both social butterflies, so having people over energized us. We delighted in opening up our home. And that was all good. But eventually, my definition of hospitality began to get a bit more uncomfortable.
I listened as my pastor talked about the fact that they had up to seven or more house guests in their home at any given time, plus their family of six...in a house that they had purposely downsized into in order to give more money away for those in need. A woman from Guatemala with four kids had recently moved in. Francis had met her at the local homeless shelter and brought her home for six months until she got on her feet. It was radical. And Biblical. And convicting.
My family recently started memorizing Romans 12. Verse 13 of the chapter says: Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
This passage comes on the heels of the early church-at a time when people were selling what they had so no one was in need, when persecution was common, and loving others meant life-altering choices. To think that I was giving myself a pat on the back for hosting brunch made me realize how “American” my mentality had become.
I can't tell you how many times I have been blessed beyond belief by someone's invitation for dinner, or by friends who have thrown events for me. I'm not dismissing the incredible blessing that is, or how much it meant to me personally. Heaven forbid we stop doing those kinds of happy and generous things for one another-I know they please God.But Heaven forbid that's were it ends for me or that my sons grow up to think that is the extent of what a hospitable woman looks like.
I believe we need to stretch ourselves far beyond the point of feel-good hospitality, to nitty-gritty sacrificial hospitality too. Like the time my single friend came over every Thursday for six months after a hard day's work to wash and fold my laundry when I had my first baby.
How about you? What can you do to go outside your comfort zone?
Here's a few ideas:
1. Offer your home with a backyard to a friend who lives in an apartment so she has a bigger space to host her child's birthday party.
2. Loan your extra car to a family who sold their second car to pay bills during unemployment.
3. Cancel sports and dance classes for a semester and decide to serve meals as a family at the local shelter once a week for a semester.
A Biblical woman is a hospitable one, no doubt about it. But perhaps our definition of hospitality has become too narrow. I dream about the day the world hears the word Christian and immediately recognizes them as extravagantly loving-those people who adopt orphans, open up their guest rooms to strangers, and pour out but seem to always be filled. And that's the kind of woman I'm praying for as a wife for my boys. I just pray they recognize her because she first looked a lot like me.
Pray with me?
Dear Father,Open my heart to what it means to be a hospitable woman. Guide us as a family towards those who need to be shown love through our hospitality, and fill us up with Your wisdom and strength so that we can bless others. May my sons see in me first what it means to love others through my generosity and resources, and may they seek to find a woman who displays Biblical hospitality in their future wives.In Jesus Name, Amen!
1. Read more about Francis and Lisa Chan's hospitable lifestyle here.
2. From my “Books Worth Reading” book list, one of the most life-changing books by Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God.
3. Read more from Romans chapter 12 here....
Amber lives in Southern California with her husband and 3 boisterous sons under the age of 6. She writes about faith and family from the perspective of a work-at-home mom, Hollywood producer and writer. You can follow her God-sized dream journey and their “Testoster-Home” at www.motherofknights.com.