Hospitality. What do you think of when you hear this word? Is there an emotion that stirs a memory, perhaps? For me there is. Quite honestly, I believe the love for hospitality was passed down to me from my precious grandmother. At the time, I had no idea how God would use the simple act of learning to make hot water cornbread and fresh collard greens to help shape the lives of many who would one day grace the entrance of my front door.
My front door. For any of you who may have wandered down to the bayou for a visit, you would note that there is nothing fancy about it. You likely will have noticed a Sharpie sign — my house is full of Sharpie sticky notes — that reads, “Please shut the front door.” This is necessary because, if you simply swing it shut, it will bounce right back open again. Let’s just say, the door frame is rather worn from all the visitors, so it requires a little more effort to make sure that it is shut. In the sweltering heat of Louisiana, a closed door is of high importance. But as much as I love my plain, old, ordinary front door, it is what lies behind that door that I hope to bring to your attention today. Pull out your journals, Bibles, and all the fancy writing utensils, and let’s get busy.
1 Peter 4:8-9
Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Let me tell you that within these two simple verses, God provides a road map for you and me. These words should guide us as we parent. They should guide us as we strive to be the best helpmate for our spouses and most definitely as we attempt to reach the lost by sharing the love of Jesus. Now, seeing as how we Robertsons often approach situations from a seemingly backward or backwoods point of view, let’s study these verses from the bottom up.
Hospitality. What is your definition of hospitality? What images come to your mind?
Just curious, was it matching dishes? Gourmet food? Was it perfect Pinterest-worthy kitchens? Were people present in the vision in your mind? You see, the way you view hospitality will significantly impact the role it plays in your life. I fear that we have allowed culture to redefine what God had in mind when He commanded, yes, commanded, us to be hospitable. And for this reason, hospitality often seems somewhat intimidating to most of us because, well, not many of my friends have a picture-perfect life, home, dishes, or matching silverware.
We all know the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke chapter 10, but I invite you to take a moment to read verses 38-42.
Martha welcomed the Lord into her home.
Let us just soak up those words for a moment. Many times, the hardest part for us is making the decision to open our front door, so I want to take a moment to highlight the beautiful image of Martha welcoming the Savior into her home. So many rich lessons are tucked into this familiar story, and I do not want to miss one of them. Perhaps the lesson for you today is simply to open your door. Maybe you have believed the lie that hospitality is only for those with the beautiful houses or upbeat personalities. This could not be further from the truth. If that were the case, then I never would have needed the Sharpie sign on my front door saying, “Please shut the door” because very few souls would have ever graced the threshold.
Some of you may not fear the opening of your door, and so, perhaps the Lord wants to speak to you through these words:
But Martha was distracted with all her preparations.
Are you missing the joy of hospitality because you are too caught up in the process? Is your desire for everything to look perfect preventing you from being present? Is there a conversation that needs to take place, a heart that needs to hear the Lord, but the piled-up dishes in the sink attract your attention instead?
Is Jesus saying to you: ______, ______, you are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary?
Jesus was always about the relationship. Yes, He, too, often deepened relationships over food, but the food and the setting were never the objects of focus. His message of love always trumped the details. This brings us full circle to Peter’s words in verse 8 of chapter 4:
Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins.
Genuine hospitality is showing love.
It’s using whatever means you have, whether an abundance or very little, to invite people into a relationship of love. This is the place where they will meet Jesus because God is love, and in Him, there is no darkness.
Today, as I think back to the messy floors, dirty dishes, mismatched clothes, and hand-me-downs, I find myself desperately wanting to capture that image and share it with you — with all the mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and friends who may find themselves chasing after an image of a life that is seemingly perfect but only from the outside looking in. Sisters, we want to create lives that are beautiful from the inside looking out. We want the walls of our home to be a shelter, a refuge, and a place of comfort and rest for all who enter.
I will leave you with this. My children were not raised in a perfect home — you know my story — but oh, how God is good in that, despite our flaws, our sins, and our mistakes, He used the simple act of loving on people behind my front door to cover a multitude of sins. He is still covering them today, and as I watch my four boys taking up the torch and wearing down the thresholds of their homes, I can say, with complete joy, that all the messes, dishes, and conversations were totally worth it.
Hospitality is opening your door and loving on all who enter.
Original devotion written for Devotionals Daily by Kay Robertson.
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Is your door open? Who have you invited in? Even when we feel inadequate, or our homes aren’t picture perfect, or clean enough, or maybe our families are messy, let’s invite people into the mess and be a community that love Jesus together and serves Him with hospitality. Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you about just being ourselves and letting ourselves be used by Jesus! ~ Devotionals Daily