As posted on Visionary Womanhood, yesterday, March 19, by Kim Doebler
Hospitality is a command.
Being Martha Stewart or Betty Crocker is not.
Romans 12:13 states it plain and simple: “Practice hospitality.”
In I Timothy, hospitality is listed as a “must” for an overseer and the “good deed” of a woman.
I Timothy 3: 2 “Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach”
I Timothy 5: 10 “and is well know for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.” (bold added)
My husband and I make a good team in this area. Todd is bold and spontaneous in inviting people over, while I enjoy opening our home. I have made it a goal to always be ready when someone stops by. Obviously this doesn’t mean living in a spotless Ethan Allen house with a turkey dinner waiting to be served. It means having the attitude of stopping what I’m doing, offering a drink, perhaps a snack, and chatting with our guests.
We tend to have a lot of company and overnight guests. I’d like to share some tried and true tips that work for me.
The Food is Ready! I am a true believer that food makes people feel comfortable. With that as my basis, in the summer time I have plenty of ice cream and toppers on hand, and in the cooler months there is a bowl of cookie dough in the fridge on alert to provide yummy, warm cookies at a moment’s notice.
We also have an extra fridge in our basement that is brimming with a variety of sodas to meet most every taste. I also try to keep a few snack foods around the house like: popcorn, chips and dip, tortilla chips and salsa (not my favorite so easy to keep on hand without being tapped into), add some melted cheese, and this snack has multiplied its appeal.
For overnight or meal guests, the most helpful tip is to do as much ahead as possible. The extra fridge and freezer really help. I can often store meals right in their cooking container. For those things that can’t be done ahead it helps to have a plan, a list to mark off, so I don’t have to use up my energy trying to remember all of the details.
A principle from the Bible found in the parable of the widow’s offering (Luke 21: 1-4) also applies to hospitality.
Luke 21:1-4 “As He looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ He said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’”
We are reminded in this example that we are not to worry about what we do not have, but only need to respond with what God has given us. The same is true with hospitality; don’t be concerned about what you do not have to offer, only give of what you do have.
If macaroni and cheese is all you can afford, than serve it with love. No meal is even necessary! A glass of lemonade or a cup of coffee can speak ‘welcome’ very loudly. In the parable of the widow’s offering of two copper coins, we see that God loves a cheerful giver. The amount doesn’t matter when it’s given from the heart. This widow willingly gave all she had, so again, it isn’t the frills of hospitality that matter, it is our heart.
The Home is Ready (But Not Perfect!) Now, if someone is coming to my house for the first time, I admit I stress a little about having the house in tip top shape. But, if you are a regular guest, you may have to overlook the toys on the floor or set aside the books piled on the couch.
I do agree with the old saying though, “if you have trouble keeping your house clean, have more company!” There really is nothing more motivating. So although there may be a little living going on, we purpose not to allow the pick up to get away from us. This heart of being ready for a friend to drop by keeps our home in a fairly presentable state.
When overnight guests leave I try to tidy up as soon as possible. Even though the motivation is gone I make myself “just do it”, so we can all adjust to “normal” life again. I’ve never regretted being prompt in tidying up, but I have been caught wishing I hadn’t procrastinated.
Want a few more tips for overnight guests? I purpose to have their beds made and waiting when they arrive so they feel anticipated. A welcome sign is made to raise the excitement, and on special occasions mints or a gift have been laid on the bed.
We are blessed to have a guest quarters in the house we now live in, but in our prior home, our downstairs play room used to double as our guest room. It provided some privacy with a door and its own bath.
Under the sink in the bath I put a basket full of the necessities that our guests may have forgotten: toothpaste, deodorant, comb, mouthwash, toothbrush, hairdryer… you get the idea. Clean towels, wash clothes, extra shampoo and soap were left out so there was no uneasiness wondering what was available.
Along the lines of privacy, we try to keep our children upstairs until everyone is up in the morning. If we have to walk through the basement when company is down there, we announce our entrance.
The Love is Ready! Lastly, entertainment is the least of my concerns. Most of our time seems to be spent in conversation. Although I do take into account younger children and have some activities in mind to direct them towards if our mere presence gets too dull. (I’m talking little pleasures: play dough, building a fort, sledding, running through the sprinklers, or bringing out flashlights.) Once in a while people will come with a goal to accomplish, but in general we enjoy just spending time together.
I know I feel a bond when I am welcomed into someone’s home. It is as if they are sharing a part of themselves with me just by opening the front door. Having experienced the hospitality of others has encouraged us to do the same.
We also know that having someone over for a malt may open hearts to share real needs, or it may just provide lightness and enjoyment. Both deep conversation and laughter have real ministry potential. So, we intend to keep the path to our front door well worn.
When considering for yourselves if it is time to put out the welcome mat, remember, God wants us to ”practice hospitality”.
There needn’t be any other reason.
Great occasions for serving God come seldom, but little ones surround us daily.