Hotel and Motel chains spend millions of dollars trying to figure out how to be more hospitable to attract more business. From sheet thread counts to warm chocolate chip cookies at the front desk, to work out rooms and free wi-fi; what makes strangers feel at home is big business!
Stop that! Yeah you. I know your family isn’t a big business. But we all know we need to be hospitable. After all John 13:35 reminds us, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” So if you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, then showing love is an expectation. Besides, deep down we all know being kind is the right thing to do, even IF the bible didn’t tell us so.
But I want to offer three important reasons why your family should make it a priority to talk about hospitality. Let me begin with a definition of hospitality. Hospitality is made up of the words “Xenos” meaning stranger and “Phileo” meaning to love or show affection. Therefore hospitality literally means to show love for strangers. In other words, be like Motel 6 and make strangers feel loved! Beyond that, here are three great reasons to show hospitality.
- Hospitality is charismatic and contagious – Think about this statement in the context of the definition for hospitality. Every family shows love to the people they know and care about (ok, maybe not every family, but that’s a whole other conversation!). People will only slightly notice a family that is loving to each other. But you show genuine love for strangers… for that friend your child brings home… for the co-worker your spouse invites to dinner… for your athlete’s coach that stops by. I remember the time my middle school age daughter invited her teacher over for dinner because she was struggling in her marriage (It’s a long story how she found out) and she thought her parents could help. So we set another place at our table for a woman we had never met (stranger) and showed her love. That kind of love is charismatic and contagious.
- It teaches our kids to be selfless – one of the hardest character qualities to teach is that of selflessness. It is much better caught than taught, but it’s not always easy to find opportunities to model it for your kids. When your family shows love for strangers, your kids begin to sense what is most important to you. Again, most families expend time and resources for family – that actually has the potential of encourage selfishness. But giving up what’s valuable to your family to a stranger is selflessness.
- Finally, God’s economy stands out. Most people think in terms of the world’s economy. In the world’s economy it’s always about, what’s in it for me. In the worlds economy you always weigh the cost against the reward. In the world’s economy you give so you can get… it’s called an investment. But in God’s economy, the first shall be last… if you want to be great then be the servant… and you love people who will likely never be able to return the favor! To a watching world, that makes no sense. But it gives them an illustration of God’s economy.
One family I’ve seen live out hospitality as well as any family I know is the Goff family. Bob and Maria and their three kids, Lindsey, Richard and Adam have loved strangers for as long as I’ve known them. Recently we interviewed Bob for our podcast “Parenting With Truth & Grace”. You can listen to the podcast HERE. But in the podcast Bob shares a great story about one of his visits to Africa. We won’t spoil the story, but what he walked away with was this truth – true hospitality says you’re welcome here… as opposed to you’re invited here. He told us, let’s stop inviting people and just start welcoming people.
Friends, that’s hospitality. Hotels and motels can spend all the money they want. But we have the opportunity in our families to show true hospitality. We have the privilege of loving strangers and making people feel welcomed in our home. It doesn’t take millions of dollars and it doesn’t even take free Wi-Fi (although your guests will probably appreciate it)… what it does take is for your family to begin talking about hospitality.