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(Disclaimer: This post mentions some harder aspects of hospitality. I have just had the most delicious weekend of fun with my schoolfriends, their other halves and kids, who came to stay with us. This post was written last week, before my friends came to stay, and does not relate to the wonderful weekend we’ve just had!)
This is my third (and final) post on hospitality. If you haven’t read the previous ones, click here, then here. Having read them, you may feel that hospitality is always easy for us – that our guests always play happily with our kids, that people always chip in and help, that I never feel insecure about the state of our home. You may have imagined some bubbly, happy household which constantly has people coming in and out, and where no one is ever in the slightest bit grumpy. But that isn’t the reality.
Sometimes, hospitality is really difficult. Sometimes people don’t help. Sometimes the kids’ routine gets sacrificed. Sometimes meals go wrong or aren’t appreciated. Sometimes my priorities go askew, and I start to feel down about things which really don’t matter.
But I think this is OK. Not OK in a good sort of way, but OK in that we should be expecting this to be the case sometimes. Why else would Peter write “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9) if it wasn’t supposed to be difficult some of the time? It can be difficult regardless of whether or not we have children, of course, but I’m writing specifically to encourage those of us with families not to abandon hospitality just because we now have fuller homes and fuller schedules.
The main thing God’s teaching me about hospitality is that although it may be harder now that our lives are more stretched, it’s just as important as it ever was. It’s important for my kids to grow up with a Biblical attitude towards sharing our home – and it’s important that others who need a family can feel part of ours. Do I then give up when it’s difficult? OK, I know the answer here is supposed to be a resounding ‘NO!’ but what if I feel like saying “Yes! I give up!”? How do I get over that, and return to a place where hospitality is part of discipleship?
The answer lies in the context of the verse quoted above:
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:8-10)
The answer is love. Love covers over a multitude of sins – including thoughtlessness, laziness, obliviousness, greed, selfishness, and anything else you may wish to grumble about when it comes to those to whom you’ve offered hospitality!
I wish I could learn this lesson quicker – but there are no shortcuts. I need to develop a ‘hospitality habit’ of praying for this love every time someone comes through my door. I also need to remember that I’m called to be a ‘faithful steward of God’s grace”. How will we share God’s grace if we can’t accept it for ourselves? Someone who understands and knows the value of grace will be able to extend it to themselves, rather than becoming inward-looking and negative when something goes wrong.
* What do you find difficult about hospitality?
* How could you offer hospitality ‘to those in need’ whilst also meeting the demands of your children?
* What hospitality habits do you need to develop?