Practicing Hospitality

Life is like a chain, with each deed linking up to another and surfacing somewhere else. The phone call I got made me think…How many times do we act or speak without any thought of the possible consequences of our thoughts and words? When we rudely push someone at a crowded bus stop, or we dump our emotional garbage on our loved ones by speaking harshly to them. . . when there is a guest and we serve them grumbling. . . you never know what is around the corner.

Growing up, our home was always so filled with people that in my childish mind, I decided that when I grew up, I would place a huge sign in front of my house saying Visitors Not Allowed. It was not just that there were always people, it was that some of these had to be waited on hand and foot with a cheerful smile on my face when I was feeling anything but cheerful. Some of these people stayed a day, some a year. But my mum always made sure they felt at home. Sometimes we had children of other missionaries living with us and my mum made sure they were treated no differently than we were. If she could not afford for a treat to go round everyone, that was it. No treat.

Hospitality in our home was not an option, it was mandatory. I hated it at first – having to give up my room for guests and all that. But you know what I did not know? I did not know that I was forming a chain that was going to link up someday. I have experienced extraordinary hospitality in my life in so many ways. And I know that it is those earlier seeds I planted, albeit unwillingly.

One prime example was my trip to Malaysia. A family I had made friends with when I was in the country years ago (and stayed in touch with for one reason or the other), made the first few weeks really pleasant. Even though they were not themselves in the country at the time I arrived, they made sure I had a pick up from the airport; made their ministry guest house available for me; got me a cellphone and just generally made sure I was comfortable. Though they were vacationing  a continent away, I still felt the warmth of their hospitality.

Now, I realise that for a lot of folks you may not have the sort of jamboree in your home that I had while growing up. Dictionary.Com defines Hospitality as –

1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.
2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.

And has as it’s synomyms

  • warmth
  • cordiality
  • geniality
  • friendliness

In other words, hospitality is how you treat people, either guests or strangers. It could be as simple as

  1. A warm hug to a newcomer to your church
  2. Buying a cup of coffee for that homeless person and staying awhile to chat
  3. Allowing the neighbours’ kids to play in your yard
  4. A listening ear

There are so many ways to be friendly and show warmth. Remember, for Christians, this is not something you may choose to practice or not practice; it is a mandate.

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! (Hebrews 13:2)

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