As I consider the reasons why I sometimes struggle to be hospitable and what I hear from friends and church members as to why we struggle with opening our homes, it seems to me that we have a few roadblocks built in our minds. There are at least 3 lies that we tell ourselves or society tells us that stop us from opening the door.
3 Lies that Will Stand in the Way of Your Hospitality
We struggle with hospitality for a number of reasons but as I look to my life and the lives of those around me, it seems that 3 lies stand out.
Lie #1 – The Bible Doesn’t Tell Us to Be Hospitable.
I have been working my way through a personal journey of hospitality this year (hence this story). Personally the Lord has used this verse to change my thinking dramatically,
“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” – 1 Peter 4:9
As I studied 1 Peter in the fall of 2016 the Lord used this verse to expose my own pride and grumbling spirit when it comes to hospitality. But this is far from the only command to be hospitable or the only example of hospitality in Christian character shown in Scripture. Romans 12:13 again directly commands hospitality by saying
“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
The most shocking of the verses in my estimation is found in Romans 15:7. Subscribe below to access your free printable version of this verse at the bottom of this post!
“Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Hospitality is commanded biblically, hospitality is shown in the character of Christians, hospitality is vitally important. Do not let yourself believe this lie.
Lie #2 – It won’t make a difference.
Too often we believe that hospitality will not have a lasting impact and will make no difference. We have tried it once or twice and didn’t feel an earth shaking change as a result of having that family over for dinner or giving that tired mom a few hours off. However, there are a few things that we fail to consider when we believe this lie.
1. Community grows
Community grows within our churches and neighborhoods not when we have an occasional opportunity to spend time together but when we intentionally love one another consistently.
Having a family over for dinner is a great way to start with hospitality ministry but you may not see a groundbreaking reaction right away. Over time, however, churches begin to fellowship as we spend time dealing with our real lives together.
Think about yourself. Would you share your inner struggles with someone the first time they had you over? There is a good chance you would not but if they became an ally and extension of your family, you would feel much more open to this possibility.
2. Loneliness is cast off.
This is true especially as believers we are meant to be together. Scripture tells us that we are a body (1 Corinthians 12:27). It is an odd thing to think of your foot and your shoulder only being in close proximity once a week. So it is with the church. We are meant to be in fellowship with one another throughout the week. This is a privilege as we carry one another’s burdens. The loneliness that plagued us before we were part of this body ought to be forsaken for a life filled with community, seeking to bless others, and in turn being blessed ourselves.
I have personal examples of this in my own life. I have been lonely and felt a lack of community, I have been a stranger who was welcomed. As the Lord met my needs through the Christian community, I have come to the deep conviction that hospitality does matter. Living a life of welcome transforms our Christian community and strips away the deep loneliness we often experience in the world.
Lie #3 – Everything needs to be perfect
Too often we feel that everything in our homes and lives must be perfect before we can open the door. We think the food must be gourmet and the tablescape Pinterest worthy. But that is a lie!
In Rosaria Butterfield’s excellent book Openness Unhindered she discusses Christian hospitality at length. A big theme through this section of her book is that we ought not let pride stop us from showing hospitality. We don’t think of it in these terms but that is exactly what it is.
When we allow ourselves to close our door because toys are still on the floor and dinner is nothing special, we are allowing pride to creep in and steal what would otherwise be a beautiful opportunity.
As Rosaria put it, “If you run out of food, make pancakes.” People need fellowship and Christian community more than they need a well-planned meal and perfectly decorated things to look at.
I enjoy decorating and cooking and feel more sane in a relatively clean house but those things are not what make me hospitable. Check out Grace In Imperfect Hospitality for more on that topic!
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Looking at my own life, I see my tendencies to believe these lies. Let’s encourage each other to call them what they are and welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us, even when our lives are messy or busy or unplanned. The call to be hospitable is more important than our pride.
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