And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
I am often asked why hospitality is such a big deal to me. Why is it that I enjoy having people come to my home? There are several answers I can give. First, I like to feed people. I think for me, this is the biggest reason. I like cooking for people. It’s my love language. Food offers so much more than physical satiety. Food can be a comfort to some, fun for others, and sometimes it can literally be necessity for someone going through a hard time. Second, not only do I like to feed people, but I like to make them comfortable. Sometimes people just need a refuge away from their own busy chaotic life, or to see something beyond their four walls (especially true during this global health crisis). If my home can be that refuge, then I will swing my front door wide open and welcome you in faster than you can ring the doorbell. Third, sometimes you just need to feel invited. That YOU specifically matter enough to be invited into someone else’s sanctuary. Even when I have a packed full schedule and life is spinning out of control, I still smile when I receive an invitation. I may not be able to accept that invitation, but it makes me feel so loved just that I was thought of.
If we are to lead others to a loving relationship with Jesus Christ, it will be through His attributes displayed in us and extended to them. How do we do that? It’s quite simple when we go to God’s Word. We follow Christ’s model that He laid out for us throughout the Holy Scriptures. Throughout Scripture we see a rhythm of three steps used by Christ. He invites us to come, He welcomes us in, and He loves us sincerely. We too can use this model as we cultivate relationships with one another and with strangers around us.
3 John 1:8 “We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.”
Isaiah 55:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Throughout Scripture we see a rhythm of invitation from God extended to His people. We see God inviting us to rest in Him when we are weary. He invites us to drink from the Living Waters and never thirst again. He invites us to walk with Him in peace and harmony. The final invitation is to Salvation and a place at His table for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Over and over again we are invited to “come” and take part in something He’s provided for us.
We should be following Christ’s example and inviting others to “come”. We can, like Christ, invite others to rest, to participate, and to dine. For those of you who face anxiety about opening your home, take heart. This doesn’t always mean inviting into your home. If that’s not something you’re comfortable with, then pray about it. Ask God for clarity, wisdom, or a change in heart. In the meantime, there are so many other ways to invite others. You could invite a friend out to coffee or to a movie. Invite a friend or co-worker to a picnic in the park. Invite the new couple at church to dinner out and maybe catch a concert after. Invite your mom or mother-in-law to join you for a spa day. Plan a trip to the zoo or botanical gardens with your small group or mom’s club. The opportunities for invitation are endless, but they are meaningful if done in the spirit of hospitality.
Keep in mind that not all invitations will be accepted. Today more than ever schedules are packed full of commitments, and others take a while to open up to new relationships. Don’t get discouraged by these obstacles. Keep showing Christ-like hospitality and extending those invitations. God will honor your hospitable spirit.
Luke 9:11 …He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.
Romans 15:7 “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Webster’s dictionary defines the word welcome as “received gladly into one’s presence or companionship”. God is once again our example as many times throughout scripture he welcomes us into fellowship with Him. God has gladly received us as believers into His family and will welcome us into His presence one day in Glory. In the scriptures, Jesus welcomed the crowds as He traveled and taught the Kingdom of God. Even when He went to be alone and the crowds would follow Him, we see Jesus welcoming those in need over and over throughout the His Earthly ministry.
What does this look like for us? While we’re no longer in middle school welcoming other girls into our club, we as women still have social clubs whether we think we do or not. How about welcoming the new woman in your small group by making a effort to include her in conversation. Not only include her, but engage her in the conversation by asking open ended questions. Show her that you are interested in her, and not in what she thinks of you. Welcome the new mom into a play group by placing a hand on her shoulder and telling her you’re glad she’s there. Send her a follow up text message after play date letting her know how good it was to see her. Welcome a visitor at church by allowing them to share your row. Welcome one another with a smile, a hug, a fist bump (or elbow bump if you’re still doing that). Make a decision that you are going to make someone feel welcome wherever you may be.
The biggest way to make someone feel welcome is to simply include them in the activities and conversation. Pray and ask God to place someone on your heart who needs to feel welcome, then follow His leading in obedience.
(HOSTESS TIP: If you’re having a large event, try to greet everyone as they arrive. However, enlist the help of a trusted friend or two to help engage all of the new attendees or guests. If you have an event with 30+ women, chances are that you’re not going to be able to sit down and engage in meaningful conversation with everyone. This is where you ask for help so no one feels left
I John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”
John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
Kindness is the best way to show love to one another. Kindness not just in words, but also in our actions. Kindness can take many forms, and can be so simple once we take the time to stop and recognize the situation. Walking in the park, you might not think about all of the opportunities for simple kindness. But if you purposefully go into to the situation asking how you can show kindness, then opportunities will leap out at you. Are you walking with a child? Be patient and let them stop to pick that dandelion for the tenth time (I was that child). Are you about to pass another person on the path? Offer a smile and a hello. Is there a dog someone didn’t clean up after? Yes that’s right, get a baggie and clean it up yourself.
Kindness can be paying for coffee for the person behind you, inviting family to dinner, offering to pick up groceries for your elderly neighbor, a “thinking about you” card sent to a friend, an offer to babysit for new parents who desperately need a date night, and so much more. You can find a kind word or action in any situation. There can be so many opportunities is we are willing to recognize that we have the power to make someone else’s day better.
Here’s the thing though friends, we’re not taught to just love strangers and non-believers. No, we’re told to love one another. This seems like the hardest concept for some Believers to grasp and it’s sad. In John 13:35 we’re told “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We can show love to strangers as much as we want, but if they don’t see us showing that same love to one another, it will all be in vain. We cannot fight and bicker among ourselves as Believers and expect the world to want anything to do with the Savior we claim as ours. Love starts in the heart, floods into the home, spills over into the church, and then cannot be contained in our community.
Friends, with Christ as our example, let us continue the rhythms of inviting one another into a relationship Let us welcome one another with open arms, and then love one another as Christ loves. The difference we can make to a dark and lost world is limitless if we follow the example laid out in Scripture.