Hospitality – Yes You Can!
My material grandmother was the classic depiction of hospitality. She served in the kitchen at all the church gatherings. She sent care packages to distant relatives in Germany in the late 1940’s, after World War II. Her holiday gatherings were spectacular, and she always had some kind of cake or cookies ready, in case someone stopped by to visit. Don’t get me wrong, she loved doing this for Jesus, but she seemed to come by it pretty easily. “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:13) just came to her naturally.
My father’s family was very poor. I remember hearing stories about dad and his siblings picking up coals by the railroad tracks to help heat the house in winter, and I was reminded many times how they hunted for game to help feed the family. When I was home from college in the summers, I worked at a gas station/convenience store that was very near to the neighborhood where my father was raised. There were many regular customers, who upon hearing my last name, and affirming who my grandparents were, went on to say what loving people they were. One person mentioned that he lived in a very troubled household, and he spent many nights at my grandparent’s home. He fondly described how they fed and sheltered him. What an example of the Bible saying, “Is this not the fast which I chose …Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house” (Isaiah 58:6-7).
My mother was the complete opposite of her mother. We never had company in our home. Mom would get extremely anxious if a relative, fellow church member, or stranger showed up at our door. Our house was a complete mess with four wild boys running around but, me and my brother’s friends adored my mom. She would bring Kool-Aid to a whole group of boys playing in the backyard. She would listen to all of the ridiculous stories that little boys and teenage young men tell. She would pack way too many kids into one vehicle for rides home from school or a trip to the movies. I remember multiple testimonies at my mother’s funeral that both friends and family shared about her kindness. No, she was not her mother, but she did, without ever recognizing it, show hospitality motivated by love.
My dad also left a different legacy of hospitality. Years after his passing, an old school mate reminded me about the multiple hours that my dad spent in our home helping this friend memorize Bible verses for the Awana program. This young man went on to receive the Meritorious Award, which was the program’s highest recognition. He is now an Elder and full-time Music Minister at his church. Another classmate and friend, who my dad drove to and from football practice and games since our early Junior Tackle days (5th grade) through high school, approached me at our 35th High School Reunion, and said, “Sager, when my mom told me about your dad’s passing years ago, it hurt. Man, he was a good dude.” Multiple, seemingly insignificant steps can lead to great impact.
There is a common misconception that before practicing hospitality, one needs to be gifted in entertaining, cooking, and home decoration. Because of this misconception, many of us have bought the lie that hospitality is beyond our capacity. Initially, I was going to just share stories about my grandparents. I was actually planning on stating that my parents weren’t great at hospitality, but then God convicted me.
Jesus knew that one of the greatest keys to a person’s heart is by showing them kindness, which is a form of hospitality motivated by love. Think about it: What person, aside from your immediate family, has had a great influence in your life? Can you name your favorite primary school teacher? What’s the best thing anyone ever did for you? If you can tie back any of your answers to these questions to some form of kindness displayed to you, there are high chances that you were shown a biblical form of hospitality. My guess is that these acts of hospitality weren’t glamorous, but they were born out of love.
The great thing about kindness and hospitality is that anyone can demonstrate them. In fact, I bet that you do demonstrate kindness frequently. My encouragement is to do it more, and do it with intentionality. This is love in action. “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
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