Dear Reader, as a professional home-body and home-maker, it is my opinion that all the best things happen at home. Home is a gift from the Lord, whether it’s large or small, in good repair or disrepair. And because God is Sovereign, I know that where my home is, and how it is set up, and how many people I can comfortably fit in it, is not by accident. I can rest in this when I’m tidying up for a gathering and there seems to be a toy every two square feet because, well, we only have 1,000 of them. Even if the dirt seems to multiply because every area is a high traffic area, and the dishes pile up, and I do not have a dishwasher…still I am SO richly blessed. How good it is when I know it!
Where we live, where we work, where our kids go to school, the people we bump into at coffee shops and grocery stores. Each of these things (good and bad as they may seem to us) are divinely orchestrated for our ultimate good and God’s ultimate glory. Even my lack of dishwasher can be used by the Almighty to sanctify me. (Think of all that extra time I now have to pray while washing dishes!)
One way I think we acknowledge God as the giver of all the good gifts we have received is by extending hospitality; with one another in the body of Christ, and to others who may not believe. But I think hospitality is something that celebrities like Martha Stewart and channels like HGTV have made us feel like is something out of our reach as ordinary individuals. We make excuses like; “my house is too small”, “my budget is too meager”, or “my schedule is too crazy.” We excuse ourselves from a command of the Living God, and doing so, we refuse to welcome Jesus into our homes.
In fact, if you look around the world for the most lavishly generous people, I think you will usually find them in some of the poorest countries of the world. The most cheerful givers that I have seen have been living on very slim material riches.
Jesus saw this too with the widow at the temple. Jesus is sitting in the temple watching people put money into the treasury and “many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.'” (Mark 12:41-44)
I also read an amazing blog post by Ann Voskamp after her return from Rwanda a few years ago. They spent time there listening to people’s stories, seeing the needs, harvesting beans and feeding hungry people. And one thing she said in that post has always stuck with me; she said, “Give until it changes how you live.” She talked about how sacrificial giving should actually be a sacrifice. And I would argue that if our giving isn’t changing how we are living, then it is simply a self-serving pat on the back that makes us feel good, but does little to change the world around us, or our own hearts. (And of course God is always, always interested in both.)
Philippians 2:4 says, “Consider other’s more significant than yourselves.” I don’t think it gets much clearer than that. Act like that person God is calling you to serve is more important than you. Would you hold back if that were true?
This is something so lost in our culture; where the gaps between the socioeconomic classes seem to be ever widening. Where we refuse to look the homeless in the eye, where we ignore the plight of the modern day orphan, where we ignore the needs of the single mother, where we look away from the tragedies of the world near and far, so many of which we might be able to do something about, even just by offering a little hospitality.
I’m not pretending to have any solutions of answers; but I am longing to call the church to extend hospitality to each other, and to others in our hurting world. Even with as little as you may think you have to offer, God will make it enough if you offer it willingly to him. The loaves and the fishes can teach us a lot about hospitality.
“After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?’ Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place. so the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barely loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!’
Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.”
John 6:1-15 [Emphasis mine]
Maybe you look at your small home, your small budget, your small time and say, “What is this___________, for it to be used by God?” Satan may even question and challenge you and say, “Who do you think you are, thinking that YOU have something to offer?” And in your heart maybe it even looks like humility; but the reality is that it’s fear, and even deeper down, if you know what the scriptures teach about hospitality, it might be downright disobedience.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:9-12 [Emphasis Mine]
This is the first in a series of blog posts I’m going to do around the topic of hospitality. I hope that it will bless you as you think through ways to rest in Gods Sovereignty, to enjoy the good gifts that he has given you, and to give to others freely knowing that they were never really yours to begin with.
What stops you from offering hospitality, in ways big and small, to other people that have been made in the image of Christ? Comment below and let me know how I can encourage you in this area!
I hope you enjoy this series, and thank you again for bearing with me as I work to revamp this blog. I am honored that you all have chosen to read my words, and I hope that these loaves and fishes I bring will be enough, in the hands of Jesus, to feed many.