A Heart for Home, Part 2
In part 1, we looked at what it means to have a heart for our homes, what the Bible has to say about it, and how to use our influence there for the good of others and the glory of God. Today, I want to consider the eternal value of hospitality.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Heb 13:2
Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 1 Pet 4:9
Our influence at home must be primarily for those who live there, but it does not stop there. When used strategically, our homes can be one of the most effective places of ministry for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. How? Through hospitality.
Through hospitality, Rahab helped the Israelites enter to the Promise Land (Joshua 2). Through hospitality, the Shunammite woman enriched the ministry of Elisha (2 Kings 4). Through hospitality, Esther exposed the evil plot of Haman (Esther 4). And through hospitality, Jesus was often welcomed into homes to teach and minister.
Hospitality, in the greek, literally means to love strangers. This means we leverage our homes to welcome and care for others who don't normally reside there. The focus of hospitality is the people. It is not about how clean or big your home is, how great the food is, or what the plans are. But rather, that those being welcomed feel loved, cared for, and ministered to. Being too concerned about the food and atmosphere can actually take away from caring for the people you are trying to host.
I know there are certain people that feel more comfortable in my home when it's neat and picked up. And there are others who feel at home when I have welcomed them in "as is," scattered toys, dirty dishes and all. Ask the question... what will allow [whoever-is-coming] to feel the most refreshed, most welcomed, and most cared for.
HOSPITALITY AS EVANGELISM
Hospitality can be an major asset in ministering and strengthening other believers. The early church was “breaking bread from house to house, taking meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” (Acts 2:46). But hospitality can also be a pathway for evangelism to the lost. What better way to love neighbors, co-workers, friends or family than welcoming them into your home, refreshing them and sharing about the amazing hospitality of God who welcomes sinners into His family through Jesus?
Too many of us spend a majority of our time with other Christians. But Jesus told us we are to be salt and light to the world. One of the easiest and most natural ways to be salt and light is to get to know your neighbors. Leave space in your schedule to hang out with them. Start to build relationships with them, invite them over for dinner, to watch the game, to have a play date. Be that person your neighbors can call on when they need a cup of sugar and when life is falling apart. Invite those who don't know Jesus into your home and let them see what the Kingdom of God is like: a household of sinners with a great Redeemer, forgiving each other and giving grace to one another and finding joy in the eternal things. Use your home to whet their appetite for the Kingdom.
PRACTICAL FIRST STEPS
Here's a couple of simple steps toward using your home strategically for the Kingdom of God.
First, create space in your life for times of hospitality. Don’t fill every inch of your day with activity, but instead leave margins in your schedule for hosting people and being available to your neighbors. A simple step is to set aside 1 regular time each week to host others. You might not fill this spot each week, but having it available to invite over a neighbor or friend and asking God to show you who you can invite is a good start.
Second, keep a few basic things on hand for impromptu or last minute invites. This might just be simple, easy snacks (like trail mix or popcorn) and tea and coffee. Frozen meals are great to have on hand, either homemade or bought, for a last minute get together. Or, you might have a favorite recipe that only requires canned or frozen food that you can keep on hand all the time.
Lastly and most importantly, be prayerful and aware. Notice those around you (maybe coworkers or neighbors) throughout your day and ask God for help to soften hearts, to give others a willing heart to say yes when you invite them. Most people, even if you don't know them well, feel honored to be invited into your home for a meal and are usually eager to say yes. So don't hesitate! Invite someone over today.
Be creative! Utilize the nuances of your home and family life to welcome strangers into your life and minister to them! May others say of us what Paul said he looked forward to in Romans 15:32: "so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company."
Check out part 3 discussing the issue of work and commitments outside the home.