Friday March 9, 2007

     But, you say, I cannot practice hospitality because…….and then the excuses begin.  God’s Word does not say show hospitality only under certain circumstances.  He does not say to meet the needs of the saints if, and only if, all of your ducks are all in a row.  He says, “contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” (Romans 12:13)   Period.  End of discussion.  Let’s take a peek at some of the excuses I’ve heard and see if we can’t work through them.

     I don’t know anyone.  You might be new to your area or new to your church and it may very well be true that you don’t know anyone.  Ideally, other Christians would be reaching out to you, but their failure to practice hospitality does not give you an excuse for not doing so.  I loved Revee’s  comment to my first hospitality post. She wanted to know how to find someone who wanted to be “hospitalitied to”. (I LOVE that term, by the way!).   You know what?  Most everyone enjoys receiving an invitation.  An older couple at church or in your neighborhood.  A widow or widower of any age.  College students.  Singles. Single parents and their children.  Your pastor or priest.  Our elder and his wife, who have seven children, said they are rarely invited into people’s homes, so you might consider inviting a larger family.  Find someone to reach out to and invite them over!  Just do it!

     My house isn’t big enough, nice enough or clean enough.  You are in the home God has given you.  Whether it’s a small studio apartment or a lavish mansion, you are where God intends for you to be during this particular season.  Therefore, this is the home where God intends for you to practice hospitality.  If you live in a smaller home, then you will probably want to limit the number of guests you invite at a time.  That’s fine!  Small, intimate gatherings allow you to really get to know your guests.  On the other hand, we were once part of a supper for eight group, and one of the couples lived in a small trailer.  They still participated by inviting three other couples to join them for dinner.  In the winter they were cozy inside the trailer, and in the summer they ate in lawn chairs outside.  What’s important to remember is that they were practicing hospitality in the home that the Lord had given them!

     Not nice enough.  Not nice enough for whom?  Again, remember that the home you are in is the home God has given you.  Please also remember that a complaining attitude about your home reflects negatively on both you and your husband.  “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life” (Prov. 31:12).  Be very careful to not harm your husband or his reputation by slanderous remarks about your home.  Give thanks to the Lord that you have a home, be appreciative toward your husband for working to provide you a home, and then willingly work with your hands to make that home a delight for your family.  Then invite some folks over!

     My mother-in-love always said to me, “I come to see you, not your house.”  You are to practice hospitality to meet the needs of the saints and to promote the gospel.  That is your aim, not showing off your home!  It doesn’t matter if the house or rooms are in need of paint. It doesn’t matter if the couch needs recovering.  It doesn’t matter if the carpet is thread bare. Honestly, just a couple of years ago, Copper and I were hosting several families for 26 Sundays every year in our home when the walls needed paint (some still do!), the carpet was worn, and the couches were falling apart.  Once folks are sitting on the couch, they don’t notice the upholstery anyway!

     Not clean enough.  Well, that’s a whole ‘nother blog post now, isn’t it?  You are to be looking well to the ways of your own household on an ongoing basis.  This should never be an excuse for neglecting the call to hospitality.  While we all straighten up a bit before company comes, this should never be a time where an all out cleaning marathon is required.  Your guests will not mind a bit of dust on the tables, or a wayward cobweb.

     We can’t afford to entertain.  Then don’t entertain, but do practice hospitality!  I will, in the coming days, try to offer some inexpensive ways to provide for others when you have them over; but in the meantime, practicing hospitality does not necessarily mean that you need to feed your guests an elaborate, expensive meal.  What are you planning to feed your family Friday night?  Hot dogs and chips?  Great!  There are eight hot dogs in that package, and only four of you.  Invite a college student over for a hot dog dinner.  Or how about that elderly widower next door?  Either would love to join your family for a meal, even if it is just hot dogs and chips.  The idea is to share what you have, thankfully.

     My husband has a weird work schedule, and our days off don’t coordinate with most other folks.  With my husband in law enforcement, I know this one!  I know I sound like a broken record here, but I can’t help it.  Did God not know that your husband would work nights when He said to practice hospitality?  Of course He knew it!  Hospitality does not have to happen on the weekends, or only in the evenings.  Over the years we have had a lot of friends where the head of the household was a fire fighter. Talk about your difficult schedules! Extend invitations for week nights.  Most folks will gladly accept an invitation during the week, most people just don’t ask on those days so they don’t know how well this works.  If your husband works nights, you might invite a family over for a Saturday morning brunch.  Retirees are really flexible about days and times, and most prefer to be home before dark making them great choices for weekday afternoons.  Seek out other families with strange schedules.  They’ll be thrilled to know that they’re not alone.  And don’t forget your husband’s co-workers who share his schedule!

     I’m too busy.  Nonsense.  If you are too busy to do the things that the Lord calls you to do, then you need to dump the superfluous stuff and get back to what matters.  I understand that having a large family, with many little ones, does make you busy.  I understand that some of you may work outside of your home.  However, in God’s economy there is plenty of time to practice hospitality at least occasionally.  If not having the time is your excuse, prayerfully examine your schedule and your priorities and make absolutely sure that you are in line with Scripture.

     There are folks I’d like to have over for a meal, but they have food allergies and/or dietary requirements that I’m not familiar with.  This can be a challenge, but it’s certainly not a complete hindrance to hospitality.  Currently, in the church where we are members and in our immediate family and neighborhood there are families who are: vegetarian; vegan; have food allergies (dairy, soy, wheat, etc.); are on low cholesterol diets; are on low sodium diets; are diabetic; eat only raw foods; are on low carb diets, and those who eat “normally”.  It gets really interesting when some of the family eats one way, and the rest of the family eats differently!  Since this is a challenge that Copper and I are currently facing as we look at growing in hospitality, I have some ideas that I can share.

     I actually have several vegetarian main dishes in my recipe files.  Most of us do, if we’ve lived through frugal times.  A favorite here is a tamale pie made with lentils instead of ground beef.  Vegan cooking, on the other hand, is new to me as I rely too much on eggs and dairy to fill the meat void.  However, I am sure that it would not be too hard to come up with one or two really tasty vegan dishes that would meet the needs of those on a vegan diet.  I’ll be trying a couple of these on my family in the near future in preparation for serving them to guests.  Low-fat, low-sodium dishes are plentiful and easy – grilled, skinless chicken breasts, served with a green salad and brown rice is quick and easy.  Most of us could readily come up with a low fat and/or low sodium meal. 

     The “raw foods” deal is completely new to me, but I’m going to make some inquiries to find out what is allowed and what isn’t.  Off the top of my head, though, (Lisa, or anyone else familiar with raw foods, tell me if I’m way off base here!), I’m thinking that a salad bar buffet set up could work well for a raw food/normal food group.  With plenty of greens, chopped veggies, sliced fruits, etc., I could offer raw nuts for protein for the “raw foods” crowd, and perhaps some diced chicken and/or grated cheese for the “regular foods” crowd.  Instead of looking at other’s food restrictions as a hindrance to hospitality, how about looking at it as a challenge to be met!

     Another thing to remember about special diets is that showing hospitality is about reaching out to and pleasing your guests.  Scripture tells us, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:8-9)  It’s not going to hurt your family to eat something different than what they‘re used to.  It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to learn yet another way to love others and to learn to do so cheerfully.

     What other objections have you heard?  Share them with me!  I’m sure that we can find a way to work through all of them.  Tomorrow we’ll take a quick look at what it means to “contribute to the needs of the saints”

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!
Proverbs 31:27

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4 comments to Friday March 9, 2007

  • I LOVE this post, Copperswife! Very encouraging and full of great ideas, especially the salad bar idea…I think that would be really nice along with some grilled chicken!

  • Love this post…. yes, we can do this no matter our schedules or life situations…. thanks for the reminder!!!

  • Love this post…. yes, we can do this no matter our schedules or life situations…. thanks for the reminder!!!

  • Your list is very good! I like your explanations as to how to overcome the different reasons for not be hospitable.

    One that I have heard from a couple of acquaintenances is that they are afraid they might embarass themself or their guest – like say something wrong, drop the food tray, etc. Being a formerly shy person myself, I can relate! However, I’ve learned if I make mistakes, my guests are very understanding and generally have been in similar situations themselves.

    Oh- and I’m glad you like my phrase! LOL.