Saturday March 10, 2007

     In spelling out for us some of the marks of a true Christian, Romans 12:13 says that we are to “contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality”.

      Let’s define a couple of words here to help us get started.  As always, I’m relying on my Webster’s 1828 dictionary for help.

     Saint – A person sanctified; a holy or godly person

     Need – Want; occasion for something; necessity; a state that requires supply or relief; sometimes expresses urgent want or pressing exigency (necessity)

     The saints referred to in this passage are our Christian brothers and sisters.  We are to show hospitality and meet the needs of other Christians.  How can we meet needs through hospitality?  In our affluent society, we may not even see that there are needs to be met amongst the brethren.  Let’s look a little deeper, though, and see if we can’t uncover some needs of the saints that can be met through hospitality.

     My first thought is the need we all have for fellowship with like-minded believers.  We can easily grow weary in our walk without fellowship.  Hospitality gives us the opportunity to love and encourage one another through our friendship.  We can bind up one another’s emotional wounds and battle scars just by coming alongside, sharing a meal in our home, and talking and praying together.

     Is there someone in your church whose family is out of town for a few days?  Sometimes extended family lives a great distance away and it’s not always possible for the head of the house to miss work to travel with his wife and children to visit.  You can meet his need by inviting him in for a good meal and an evening of conversation.  He’d probably even enjoy watching your children play!  You might consider sending him home with a nice plate of left-overs that he can reheat in the microwave for himself the following night, and/or a few homemade muffins for his breakfast the next morning.

     Does your church host visiting pastors or missionaries?  Invite them in for a meal during the time they will be in your area.  If they are speaking in your church on a Sunday evening and you have invited them for Sunday lunch, offer them a place to take a nap, if they’d like.  They might also appreciate a quiet place to pray and look over their notes before returning to the church on Sunday evening.  These are their pressing needs of the moment, and you can easily meet those needs!

     If you have a guest room, open it up for these visiting pastors or missionaries to stay while they are in your area.  Their needs for further hospitality will vary, but most families can meet these needs readily.  Perhaps you can let them borrow your second car for a day or two. Perhaps you can allow them the use of your laundry facilities, or you could even perform this service for them.  For folks that do a lot of traveling, getting the laundry done can become a pressing need.  They may be having most of their evening meals with others, but you can be sure that they have had a good breakfast to start their day.  You might keep a tray of sandwiches made up, and plenty of fruits and snacks available, for them to help themselves to mid-day as they are in and out.

     Speaking of folks traveling, do you have a place that a motor home could be parked?  If you would allow them to hook up to your electricity and water, they’d be all set!  While they’re there, be sure to invite them into your home for meals, snacks and/or fellowship.  These folks would also, I’m sure, appreciate access to the laundry room.  If they’ve been on the road for any length of time and are traveling with children, you might even offer to entertain the children for awhile so that the parents could enjoy some private time.

     If your guests have traveled any distance to visit you, be sure that you don’t send them home with needs that would require being met on the road.  For example:  Perhaps a family is coming a distance of an hour or more to your home to share an early afternoon meal.  They want to return home in plenty of time to put their children to bed on time.  However, quite a bit of time will have passed between the meal you shared and their getting back home.  You might think of meeting their need for an evening meal by preparing some sandwiches to eat just before they leave, or by packing them a sack lunch, or a substantial snack for the drive so that they don’t need to stop for burgers on the way home.  Try to anticipate their needs.

     Perhaps your guests have very young children that still nap.  You can meet the needs of this family by providing a quiet room for the children to rest during their stay.  If you don’t have a spare bed to offer, you can make a nice pallet for a child or two by folding some soft, cushy blankets into the right-sized dimension for a bed on the floor, and a second blanket to keep them warm.

     You might be able to meet the needs of the saints and show hospitality by taking care of the family of someone in the hospital.  A warm meal.  A place to take a nap, or to leave the children for a few hours.  My daughter, Corin, lives very near to a top-notch trauma center, as well as close to a wonderful children’s hospital.  She has let other Christians know that her home was open and available for these things when they have had family members in one of these hospitals.

     Contributing to the needs of the saints and showing hospitality is really just a matter of common sense.  If your Christian brother or sister has a need that you can meet through your home, you are practicing hospitality.  Keep your eyes, and ears, open for opportunities.  Seek the Lord and ask Him to send opportunities your way.  Monday we’ll look at getting started with our practice of hospitality – the who, what, when and how. Until then….

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

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3 comments to Saturday March 10, 2007

  • I’m loving this series!  You have lots of practical, common-sense ideas for encouraging others.

    May I add something?  My husband and I are missionaries in Canada.  We spent 2 1/2 years traveling to raise support so that we could live here without having to get work permits and such as that and my husband could devote himself to the ministry.  Our very best meals were those in people’s homes – not the ones in restaurants!  Although we deeply appreciated pastors taking us out to eat, we really, really enjoyed a home-cooked meal and relaxed fellowship in a home.  The best meal we had the entire time was provided by a widowed mother and her teen/adult children.  They lived back in the sticks – and I do mean in the sticks – in Arkansas.  The meal was taco salad and watermelon, with water to drink.  The older daughter made a homemade chocolate mousse for dessert.  The house was little bigger than a shack, but that family invited us in and took us into their hearts for the day.  We’ll never forget that family!  It wasn’t their fine house or the sumptuous meal they prepared; it was the warm hospitality they extended that made our day with them memorable. 

    There were very few times that we even noticed anything about someone’s house, and very few times that we had steak at someone’s home.  Most of the time was spaghetti or a casserole (things that are inexpensive).  One old family friend who is now a pastor would put us up in their little mobile home fixed up for missionaries for weeks at a time, and we would eat their leftovers with them, eat lunch at their small Christian school with the students during the week (which my children absolutely loved), and basically become part of their family for the time they were there.  My point is that hospitality doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant.  The house doesn’t have to be perfect.  People just enjoy having some fellowship! 

    Sorry this got so long!  I just wanted to comment on the missionary aspect from the receiving end, and thoughts just kept coming!

  • Susan:  Do not apologize for the length of your comment!!  It’s so good to hear the ways that your family was ministered to by others.  Your comment is just what I’ve been trying to say, though I do not have your experience on the receiving end.  Thank you so much for sharing that!!!  :sunny:

  •  We have two sets of friends who are moving. One set has young children and they are trying to keep their home clean while it is on the market. I invite the family over a couple of times a week just so they can have a place for the kids to feel free to play and my friend can have a break. I had honestly never thought of it as being hospitable – just helping a friend in need. But your post has reminded me that is just what being hospitable means- being a friend!