For much of my life I believe I misunderstood the word hospitality. I understood it to mean inviting someone into my home and perhaps sharing a meal and spending an enjoyable time with them. The them however, was always someone I already knew. I didn’t grasp that it was to be a stranger.
Over the years as I have examined hospitality closer, I realize, as an extrovert, I’ve been practicing hospitality most of my life. I’ve always loved being with people, sharing things and sharing my life story. I am usually a cheering section for the underdog. Growing up, I was the underdog. Being second, hopefully, means someone else is first, or someone is being served.
Being an extrovert is not realizing people I haven’t been introduced to are strangers. Extroverts don’t look at many people as strangers. I may view some people as strange, yet rarely as a stranger. Many times I have unwittingly made my husband, who by his own admission is an introvert, cringe, as I strike up random conversations with people I’ve never seen before. I laugh and call it my ‘gift’. So far, my gift hasn’t gotten me into trouble. Most people are willing to share in conversation, even if it’s brief.
If we don’t share our journey, no matter how painful, how can we encourage and enrich others who have had similar experiences. I read of a good example recently from an article, The Place Along the Way, by Marie Loewen. She spoke of hurriedly making dinner, chopping vegetables, and tearing lettuce for salad and throwing the trimmings in the garbage. Her daughter, who was a gardener, reminded her that the trimmings were the stuff of precious compost. How could she grow a good garden if her mother persisted in throwing away just what she needed to enrich the soil? She realized her daughter was absolutely right, saying the parts of our lives that we would hurriedly discard, the pain we would deem garbage, is exactly what can become the compost that enriches the soil of our lives.
Scripture is full of examples of hospitality, to traveling strangers, washing of feet, to the fatherless and widows, at banquets and feasts. Hospitality involves loving and doing for others, strangers and non-strangers.
Rom 12:13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Rom 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Heb 13:1-2 Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
1 Peter 4:9-11 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (This is one of my favorites), have you ever considered that we can administer God’s grace in it various forms. I remember the first time that was pointed out to me in bible class. It impacted me greatly.
And finally, John 13:20 I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
There are many more scriptures on hospitality.
I love this from Rachael Crabb- Don’t make it complicated. Hospitality consists essentially of a relationship, where one person gives to another, that which is alive in his or her heart because of Christ.
Now go out and love a stranger!