“When a foreigner lives with you in your land, don’t take advantage of him. Treat the foreigner the same as a native. Love him like one of your own. Remember that you were once foreigners in Egypt. I am God, your God” Leviticus 19:33-34, The Message
When I was a little girl there was a Bible story that didn’t just stick with me, I actively lived out its message well into adulthood. If I felt someone was in need or experiencing hardship, the story would repeat itself to me. I would say, “THIS is what we are all created to do- love & assist others in need.”
No matter how little or large the efforts were, I kept the mantra of my Sunday School narrative fastened to my heart. During my single mom years I had little, but still wanted my son to see that even those with lack still had a mountain of abundance in comparison to others. It was our job to joyfully pour out & not worry how.
The American Church makes much of financial giving & I agree many issues would be solved if we traded our personal hoarding for relinquish or trade worship center coffee bars for the financial resolve many community hardships falling through the cracks are facing.
Despite the mismanagement or out of focus lens where finances are concerned, there are many other acts of giving that we are called to partake in. Doing so as an offering of our 1st fruits of time & love are as important as the fruit of our wages.
Many assume that to be hospitable to others is to write checks vs establishing friendships through their time by face to face serving. Telling others they will pray FOR them instead of stopping to pray WITH them. Yes, our checks are important, but human interaction brings us outside ourselves & our comfort zones to sacrifice things we never knew we were hiding behind.
The majority of those I know around my age, which is our early 40’s, have spent the bulk of life raising children. We started young while others followed paths of education & career. We didn’t have much time to find ourselves like our friends traveling Europe. The only miles we logged were those that came from pacing the floor all night with a fevered baby.
We worked because we had to eat & pay bills, not because we were crafted & made for professions. Now in our 40’s & those babies in college we sit & reflect on what we were “called” to do & be. There’s tremendous pressure to name it & do it. Especially where the church’s current focus of spiritual gifts is concerned. We tell ourselves in some lie of comparison that we should be on the other side of the world weaving baskets or authoring books. Leading a praise team or key note speaking at an arena full of others. If we’re not striving & succeeding like so & so we must be missing this call everyone else seems to have answered already. It must be BIG & VISIBLE otherwise does it count?
I tell those in the Bible class I teach & others in my personal life, there isn’t any locked away talent inside you that needs prayed out. We do have different gifts, BUT we have the same God who requires the same things in service & the prize at the end of this life is the same reward for those who believe in His ways & live them out.
With that in mind, we are required to do 2 things in life: Love Him, Love Others. We may have different avenues in how we reach these commands, but the same verses, same Spirit & same Jesus are the driving forces. You may not have the talent of a brain surgeon, but your gift of sewing, handyman work, computers or baking may be the ministry He will use to have you go out into the world & represent Him.
I was spiritually homeless for the bulk of my life. Honestly, I still haven’t found my church permanency, but at 36 & after some devastating medical woe’s with my daughter, I went back to what was home for me: Jesus.
I pushed my church hurt away & became active in Bible Study for the 1st time in my life.
You can imagine my shock when I realized the story that had been so much a part of my character DNA was actual scripture. To read the words in their entirety & to know what I had carried in me was breathed by Him, removed much of the weight on my shoulders.
Those verses are found in Matthew 25:31-46. In my opinion they are the most valid examples of how we on Earth can show & live out the true meaning of being hospitable.
C.S. Lewis says, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” I believe this to be true. The Earthly end result & an eternal beginning.
There is much focus placed on glory’s other side, while God requires us to stop looking past our responsibility to share pieces of His holiness with others now. Almost everyone I know who believes & many who don’t, agree there is a moral code that we should follow & partake in when it comes to open arms, hearts, minds, homes, & even wallets; this is how we show love, kindness, & grace to our neighbors. But agreeing means nothing if the verb of action is stagnant.
I became a Child Ambassador for a popular global organization many years ago. I couldn’t personally sponsor every child, so this attempt to encourage others to feed, clothe, medicate, educate, & love others, the majority children, became a heart mission for me.
Sadly I found out quickly that people recite & require much of the Bible’s verses & God’s plans in very peculiar ways. Many take those words & form them into darts to throw at others. To oppress & call out their sinful behaviors. The Word becomes literal in these moments. But, take that same book & the words that are meant to be crafted & molded; place them on a spoon for personal ingestion & digestion, then His instructions become suggestions. Much of my journey over the years has been met with disappointment over followers of Jesus actually following His idea(s) of hospitality while requiring others to live under a cone of shame instead.
The definition of hospitality is lengthy, but warmth, kindness, welcome, generosity, neighborliness, even food are the ones that stand out to me. The Greek word philoxenos is most used in the NT when explaining hospitality or hospitable behaviors. It’s meaning is simple: loving strangers, loving foreigners.
God was serious about our commission to take place in the here on Earth as it is in Heaven. It is written that we show we belong to Him by our love. Not to run & cripple in laziness or fear- as His perfect love drives out ALL fear & faith without works is dead.
To log off & be healed of the addictions we have to the Internet & actually use the gifts & resources inside us & around us; physically open the gates by the use of our time. Knowing that being the salt & the light will cost something of us. We’ll have to unzip our comfort costumes & step into servant’s rags. THIS is the step of the life of hospitality.
We pay forward with no expectation of reward or keeping score. Doing things for others as you would hope be done for you or your loved ones if met with the same obstacles.
The news stories we see aren’t just global, they’re happening in our own communities. Unbenounced to us many could be occurring on the same streets we live. Hunger, abuse, grief, trafficking, poverty, addiction, & many other hardships are right under our noses, calling us to be the instruments hope & restoration to the hurting. Holy hospitality.
The long-term changes in our world start small with each of us, where we are with what we have. We are all capable of doing so much more than we give ourselves credit. Pay attention to what makes your heart race or your heart break- it’s there He’ll use you.
I once saw a quote that says, “Sometimes I want to ask God why he allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world, when He could do something about it…but I’m afraid He might ask me the same question.”
Use us as your agents of change, Lord, let it be.
INSIGHT & INSPIRATION:
Deuteronomy 10:17-19, NLT, “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.
Matthew 25:34-36, 40, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”
Do you feel something inside of you crying out to be a literal sower of compassion, love, mercy, & justice so others can reap the harvest of the blessings you have been afforded? What have you been healed & delivered from that could be used to provide others with what you may have needed in your own time of lack? No testimony used to assist others will ever return void.
Let your prayer be that we would not be planters of the wind who collect nothing in return but a whirlwind. As we reap what we sow, we will find ourselves with an abundance of fruit in the land of promise instead of holding a basket of thorns & weeds in the desert & wasteland. To those whom much has been given, much is required. This isn’t a suggestion on convenient days, it’s the foundation of our beliefs every day.