EXCUSES FOR HOSPITALITY
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
People often come up with excuses for showing hospitality. Let us look at some of them, shall we?
“I cannot cook well enough.”
Remember, dear one that the purpose of hospitality is not to impress, but to serve. You do not have to make an impression. You only have to cook what you would normally serve your family. The early believers ate simple foods together. Many times they only had bread, salt, olives and fish. It is the fellowship that matters.
Acts 2: 46, “Breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.”
Romans 12:8, “He that gives, let him do it with simplicity.” Hospitality is a giving ministry and we are exhorted to do it with simplicity.
If you prepare an amazing four-course meal when you invite people over, they will think they could never keep up with that standard. However, if you cook a simple meal but make it look attractive, they will feel that it is something they could cope with and will also be motivated to reach out in hospitality. Remember…
We do not offer hospitality to impress,
Our motive is to encourage and bless!
“I do not have enough food in the cupboards.”
God does not say, “Practice hospitality when you have enough food in the cupboards.” He says, “Practice hospitality without grudging.”
I have always been challenged by a quote I found years ago: “Inviting people when you know you have nothing to serve, but depending on God to always supply, is adventurous living.”
One saint of God wrote, “We learn about Christ by giving to others. By emptying ourselves we are filled with Christ. To be open-handed and generous-hearted is the surest way to learn more of the wealth of Christ. The man who knows most of Christ is not the intellectual scholar, not even the saint who spends his days in prayer, but the man who moves in loving, generosity among his fellowmen.” I see God’s power, provision and presence with those who have hospitable hearts. God loves to join sides with hospitable people because this is the nature of His heart.
I remember one time some friends calling in on us about lunchtime. We were going through a low financial time and all we had in the house to eat were potatoes. I could have chosen to do either of two things: 1) refuse to offer them hospitality because of pride and not having a proper meal to serve them, or 2) welcome them to join us for our simple meal of potatoes. I welcomed them of course, and we had sweet fellowship together. They said that they enjoyed their meal of potatoes immensely and have never forgotten that meal we spent together. If I had served them a normal meal, they most probably would have forgotten about it!
When I first started teaching the ladies in my Bible Study the biblical truth of hospitality, one young mother came to me and said, “Nancy, I want to start showing hospitality but I never seem to have enough extra food.”
“Sue, I replied, “Do not wait until you have enough food in the cupboards. Go ahead in faith and ask someone for a meal to your home. You will be surprised what God will do.”
She did this. She invited a family to come the next week. She wondered how she would feed them all. God honored her faith. Before the day arrived for her to cook the meal, a huge box of groceries arrived at her back door. She did not know who put them there! She was excited. She got hooked on hospitality. She constantly welcomed people to her home, and God continued to show His great faithfulness to provide for them.
It is impossible to out-give God. We have always found that the more guests we have in our home the better we eat! That is how it works! So if you are going through a lean time, ask some folks over to share a meal with you. God will wondrously provide for you and them!
Then there is the practical side. When you want to get together and fellowship with friends that you know well, you can feel free to ask them to bring a dish so you can share the meal together. However, when you are inviting new people or strangers, you need to minister to them from your own store.
“I cannot afford it. We have a strict budget and hospitality would upset our carefully planned budget.”
I admit that you will have to forget your budget when you begin your lifestyle of hospitality. Do not worry! When you reach out to people and feed them from your table, God will supply all your need. He will never let you down. Try it and see.
Psalm 37:21,25-26, “The righteous shows mercy and gives… I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his descendants begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; and his descendants are blessed.” I like The Message Bible translation of this Scripture: “The world of the generous gets larger and larger, the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.”
Proverbs 11:24-25 TLB, “It is possible to give away and become richer! It is also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything. Yes, the liberal man shall be rich! By watering others, he waters himself.”
Proverbs 21:26 NAS, “The righteous gives and does not hold back.”
Proverbs 22:9, “He who has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.”
Proverbs 23:6-8 NIV, “Do not eat the food of a stingy man… for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost.”
Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Romans 14:23, ”Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
1 Peter 4:9, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.”
TLB, “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay for the night.”
JBP, “Be hospitable to each other without secretly wishing you hadn’t got to be!”
“He might have doled His blossoms out quite grudgingly,
He might have used His sunset gold so sparingly,
He might have put but one wee star in all the sky,
But since He gave so lavishly, why should not I?”
“I cannot cope with feeding a lot of people.”
Some people have a bigger physical and emotional capacity than others. Some have a stronger constitution than others. There are many women who cannot cope with a lot of people. If you are one of those, what should you do?
You do not have to ask a large family to your home or a lot of people at the same time but you can always add one extra to your table. Often this can be more meaningful than a large crowd. There are lonely students, widows, widowers, singles and single mothers who long for the warmth and security of a home. They long to sit around a table with a family. What a beautiful ministry to reach out to the one here and there that God lays on your heart.
Jesus fed the multitudes but he also ministered to the one woman at the well. Remember what happened through that incident? A whole town came to the Lord! Read John Chapter 4.
“The situation in my home is too difficult.”
Perhaps your husband will not allow you to have hospitality in your home. However, where there is a will there is a way. When you take your children on a picnic to the park, invite another mother with her children and minister to them in this way. Perhaps your husband does not like having someone for the evening meal. Why not invite a lonely widow or mother and her children for lunch? If you have a hospitable heart, God will enable you to devise a way to do things even in difficult situations. Release your God-given ingenuity. God will give you ideas as you wait on Him.
Isaiah 32:8 CJB, “But the generous person devises generous things, and his generosity will keep him standing.”
“I get stressed out.”
Do not worry too much about all the little details. People may not always remember what they ate at your home for the meal, but they will remember the warmth and the atmosphere. If you make people feel welcome, you do not have to worry about anything else. In fact, the greatest thing you can do is aim to have a relaxed atmosphere. People are not worried about a fancy meal and everything perfect in your home. They want to relax. They need to feel wanted. If you can make a peaceful and welcoming atmosphere, you’ve succeeded. If you can make them feel loved and welcome you get 10 out of 10!
But remember, they won’t feel welcome in a dirty home. You may not have everything perfect, but you must have it clean!
Keep your eyes upon the Lord, rather than worrying about all the problems. My favorite Scripture is Isaiah 26:3-4. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusts in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”
“Our house is too small.”
Do not wait until you have a big enough house. Fill up the little house you have. As you fill your house with God’s people and even those who do not know Jesus, God will bless you with a bigger house. Often we are bound to small houses, because we live to ourselves. God is looking for hospitable homes. God is looking for hospitable people. He will bless those who fill their homes with people.
I would exhort you to take up this challenge. Squash people into your home. It makes the atmosphere very cozy too! As you run out of space, God will miraculously enable you to build on to your home or provide for you to get a bigger one.
It depends on your vision. Do you have a vision for a home to accommodate just your own family? Or do you have a vision to have a home that will accommodate many people? We have lived in a lot of homes. Each time we have had to go to a new home, we check it out with the thought of how many people we can fit in it, not just our family, but all the extras that we know God wants us to bring into our home.
When we lived in New Zealand, we lived in a home that was 80 feet long. We then extended it to 100 feet. I can remember having a sit-down meal for 60 people one evening. When we moved to the Gold Coast of Australia (in the surf, sun and sand!) God wondrously provided a large home for us that was perfect for hospitality. We did not own it but we enjoyed it and used it for the Lord and His people. We welcomed hundreds of people into this home. It was constantly filled with people--people living with us, and people sitting around our table for meals.
When we came to America in 1991 we lived in an apartment for the first time in our lives. Wow! It was a new experience. But did we stop having hospitality? No! There was hardly breathing room between the table and the wall but we squashed people in. The focus was not on our home, but the table. It was at the table that we fellowshipped and lifted up the name of Jesus. It did not matter that it was a rather dismal apartment.
As we were faithful to fill that little place, God blessed us with a bigger place. He provided the opportunity for us to live in a little country church where we lived for five years. We made an apartment in the roof of the church (with no windows), but we had access to the sanctuary below, which was a work-room during the week, a church fellowship hall on Sundays, a hospitality lounge when we had too many people to fit upstairs, and a function room for all kinds of wonderful feasts and celebrations. It was a tremendous provision from the Lord. Now we have our own home again, once again with lots of room. God will always make a way for us when we trust Him.
“We haven’t got enough chairs for people to sit on.”
Find something else instead. Be creative. When we were first married, we did not have enough chairs for all the people we invited, so we used fruit boxes. In those days we could buy 40 pounds of fruit (peaches, pears or apples) in wooden boxes and we used these empty boxes for extra seating.
“My house is a mess.”
What a good incentive to get it out of a mess! There’s nothing like inviting people to your home to get it clean and tidy!
“Hospitality is not my kind of deal.”
Hospitality is not an option. It is not a ministry for certain believers. It is a commandment to all. Begin in a small way. Take a step of faith and invite one extra to your table. Then ask a family. As you seek to obey God and live the lifestyle of the kingdom of God, you will find that God is on your side.
“We find it hard to get the conversation going when people come.”
If you find this difficult, a good idea is to invite two couples or two families at the same time. This provides more people to flow in conversation and makes less strain on you.
If you have only invited one family and you are just getting to know them, ask questions about their lives. Find out what they are interested in and encourage them to share about the things they are interested in. This will get them talking and you will learn new things too. Even better, try and find out what they are interested in before they come. Get information about this subject yourself, so that you can intelligently talk to them on their wavelength.
“I’m too busy to prepare for extra guests.”
When you make a big pot of soup, freeze some. When you make a casserole, make two, and freeze one. When you make muffins or cookies, freeze some. This enables you to have something on hand for unexpected guests, or even invited guests. By the way, you have to cook for your own family so it’s not too hard to make extra!
“I’m not used to it. We never had people in our home when I grew up.”
I know it can be a big challenge for you if you have not grown up this way. Ask God to help you. He is the hospitable One and He lives in you. So you can do it!
“People do things I do not approve.”
When folk come to your home, they come into your home. God gives you the authority over your home. You are the one who sets the standard. I take my precedent from Leviticus 24:22.
“Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: I am the Lord your God.”
I keep the same set of rules for people living in our home as I do for our own family. I do not allow TV on during the day. The habit of our lives is to go to church and fellowship with God’s people every Sunday. Therefore if there are people living in our home, we expect them to join with us. If people have a smoking habit, they have to go outside to smoke and so on.
“Things in our home get broken.”
This is a difficult one. Sometimes we have to take charge of children and give strict guidelines if their own parents do not discipline them. Even so, there will be times when things can be broken or wrecked. I remember a child who used to come to our home every week with his mother. Colin had made a beautiful three-level plant box for me. I grew lovely pot plants in each of the levels. Every week this little child would climb up and stamp on all my beautiful plants. I nearly despaired, but God was faithful! They just kept growing again and not one of them died.
This Scripture is always a challenge to me:
Hebrews 10:34, “You joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.”
“It sounds like too much hard work for me!”
Read these exhortations and promises that God has given to us:
Romans 16:6, “Greet Mary, who bestowed much labor on us.”
For nearly 2,000 years people have read about this Mary. She was recorded in the Scriptures, not because she preached great messages, led worship or had a big healing ministry. No, she was recorded because she worked hard in ministering to the saints, helping them with their needs and offering hospitality. She did not do it when it suited her. She “labored” at it constantly.
1 Corinthians 3:3-9, “Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are laborers together with God.”
We have established the fact that God is a hospitable God. He longs to embrace the saints and the unbelievers into His welcoming and loving arms. He can only do this through us! We labor together with God to accomplish His purposes. You will notice it is the word ‘labor’, not laziness. It does take extra work, sometimes a lot of extra work, to invite people to a meal, or to have them live in our homes. It is a serving ministry. But we are not laboring on our own. We are working together with God. Doesn’t that make it sound exciting? To work together with God? Surely there’s nothing better we’d love to do!
1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work for the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Hebrews 6:10, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”
Do you notice that it is not a labor of drudgery, or a labor of necessity, or a labor of grudging, but a labor of love? Allow the hospitable God to flow through you. Ask Him to fill you with His love for the saints. Ask Him to fill you with His love for the unsaved and the unlovely. When love is operating, it will not even seem like labor.
1 Thessalonians 1:3, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love…”
“I feel used and abused.”
There will always be people who will take you for granted. We have felt ‘used’ many times. There are people who have put their feet under our table who have turned against us. There are folk who have lived in our home for months and months, who have turned against us. This is not a new occurrence.
Job experienced it:
Job 19:13-19, “They whom I loved are turned against me.”
David experienced it:
Psalm 41:9, “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Read also Psalm 35:11-14; 55:12-14,20-21.
Paul experienced it:
2 Timothy 4:16, “No man stood with me, but all men forsook me.”
Even Jesus experienced it too:
Mark 14:50, “They all forsook Him, and fled.”
John 13:18, “He that eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.”
Even God faces this rejection. He experienced it with His people, Israel, and still does with us today.
Isaiah 63:9-10, “He bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed His Holy Spirit…”
Does God stop loving and reaching out with His salvation, just because people reject Him? No. Do we stop showing hospitality because some folks do not appreciate us? Of course not. We do not do it for what we get out of it, but to reach out with God’s love and acceptance.
Keep a forgiving and generous heart. Along with the rejections you will also reap loads of rewards!
“Nobody ever asks us back anyway.”
We do not ask people to be invited back! That is not the point at all. Our vision is to serve others, not to be waited on. Remember, you will only receive a reward for the ones who cannot return your hospitality. (Luke 14:12-14)
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