“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
1 Peter 4:9
A fresh-from-scratch poppy seed Bundt cake for our neighbors, a trusted place to drop off your kids for a few hours, a glass of sweet tea to cool you off, or just a place to sit and talk, that was the atmosphere my mom created in my home growing up in the Carolinas. One of the greatest gifts my mom gave my dad, sister, and me growing up and continues to radiate in is hospitality.
My high school friend Jen would often say, “Every time I come in your kitchen, I want to e-e-a-a-t!” The aroma smelled like an apple pie endlessly baking in the oven. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, our table was set like the front cover of a Williams-Sonoma cookbook. Every glass cup, plate, and piece of silverware in its perfect place, gracefully decorated. Best of all, my mom made people feel accepted, special, and important—even the plumber. To this day, I love reminiscing about the environment she created for us.
Her youngest daughter, on the other hand (that would be me), has burnt broccoli and other dishes multiple times. I’ve misread ingredients. I once made a chocolate cake that made my friend Mallory nearly choke to death due to baking soda overload. I’ve dished out the weirdest concoctions on the dinner table. I’m not always the neatest in my home. I’m clean, but a bit cluttery. I blame it on being creative. Showing hospitality makes me shake in my boots, gives me anxiety, and causes my control-freak tendencies to protrude.
So when I read verses like 1 Peter 4:9, I’m both challenged and convicted. Scripture clearly teaches that as Christ-followers we’re to practice being hospitable to one another. Key word: Practice. Yeah right, you may be thinking. My house is a disaster, macaroni is glued to my floor, I haven’t vacuumed in months, and don’t you dare step a foot in my filthy bathroom! I’m right there with you.
The clincher, though, is that we’re taught to do this “without grumbling”… Murmuring is the expression of secret and sullen discontent. In other words, it is a form of covetousness—having desire for something God has not given you. Not trusting God for what he has given you. Hospitality isn’t drudgery but is a gift from God, and we have incredible opportunities to change the world through this gift in a way that nobody else can. In this way, hospitality can be freely offered with joy and without complaining.
When our doors are open, others can sense a belonging and a welcoming that is difficult to find in this cold, dark, and lonely world. When our home is accessible to outsiders, whether that includes our mom friends, their children, our kids’ friends, neighbors, or strangers, it communicates, “I welcome you. I love and accept you. I invite you in.” This is the gospel lived out in one of the most practical, tangible ways.
An open door also invites others into the craziness of our own life. It doesn’t always have to be complicated either. If dinner is too overwhelming, sharing a cup of tea or coffee will do. If the house is a mess, inviting them to sit next to the overflowing pile of laundry can suffice. I’ve done that many times. People will see you for what your home life is really like and recognize you’re pretty normal after all.
I’m convinced that if we waited until our home was pristine and picked up, we’d never welcome anyone inside. Practicing hospitality is a gift to others and an opportunity for others to know the real you. Who’s God calling you to invite in to the four corners of your beautiful mess? Chances are good that in turn, you’ll be invited into their mess too.
PRAYER: Jesus, my natural bent is toward selfishness. I’d rather isolate myself than invite others in to see my reality. Give me the desire to reach out and be a welcome mat for others so they’ll see your love and goodness. Amen.
This excerpt was taken from my new devotional book Quiet Time that releases at the end of the month. If you would like to be on the Launch Team, there is still time. Please fill out your email in the form below and you’ll be sent an Advanced Electronic Copy to review and details on how you can help spread the word. Thank you!