When you think about hospitality, don’t think entertaining. Don’t think about impressing or killing yourself making a five course meal.
Think hospital. Think healing. Think soul care.
Every day we cross paths with people who simply need kindness. And yet, kindness is so very rare in our rush-about, fast paced, production oriented culture. We are “producers”, and caring takes time, which slows.us. down.and.hinders.production.
Our husbands need a safe place. A kind word from a kind wife. Our kids need our time and attention. A look in the eye that shows that we are listening and really care. And that lady at church–the one with all the little kids who always looks exhausted–she needs to hear that she is doing a good job, and that her life matters. She needs someone to care for her exhausted body and mind.
When you open your heart and home to others by caring–soul care, if you will– you are meeting a variety of needs–physical, emotional and spiritual. And like a skilled physician, you must decipher which is needed and then set about to administer the proper remedy.
Weary souls make their way to someone who loves enough to care. It is an inroad for the gospel. It is amazing to think that the treatment for so many maladies can be had over a cup of warm tea, or a cold diet coke.
And, you never know the private pain that someone is enduring on the inside. My mother used to tell us that sometimes people are smiling on the outside, but on the inside, they might be crying.
I love this example of hospitality lived out in the life of Sarah Edwards, wife of the famous preacher, Jonathan Edwards, of the Great Awakening:
Familiar from childhood with the rules of decorum and good breeding, affable and easy in her manners, and governed by the feelings of liberality and benevolence, she [Sarah] was remarkable for her kindness to her friends, and to the visitants who resorted to Mr. Edwards;
sparing no pains to make them welcome, and to provide for their convenience and comfort. She was also peculiarly kind to strangers who came to her house. By her sweet and winning manners and ready conversation, she soon became acquainted with them, and brought them to feel acquainted with herself; and showed such concern for their comfort, and so kindly offered what she thought they needed, that while her friendly attentions discovered at once that she knew the feelings of a stranger, they also made their way directly to his heart, and gaining his confidence, led him im-mediately to feel as if he were at home, in the midst of near and affectionate friends. Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards, pg. 71
Like Sarah Edwards, we must win the heart to be effective for Christ.
We can’t be a “love on Sunday” kinda Christian. We need to go about doing good seven days a week, starting in our own home.