Monday, November 08, 2010

Hospitality Within

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."  1 Peter 4:8-9

A few months ago I shared how we were feeling very much like the Holy Spirit wanted us to start having company over more often.  We listened, and twice now we've had what we called "Friday Night Family Dinner", and we had a blast both times.  The company that came each time was completely different, and it was kind of fun, basically inviting everyone we know who lives nearby, and just inviting them for a simple meal and fellowship.  We're already planning ahead, and trying to figure out times to do it again.  We had been thinking that we'd do it once a month, but the day we had in our minds for November, someone else put out an invite for an event, and we felt like it would be bad form to throw our dinner in there as an option.

Anyway, I was thinking on our Friday night dinners, and trying to come up with a theme or idea for doing it in December, when I came across these verses in 1 Peter.  It made me think of the prep time before company comes over... and then I had to read these verses again.

For us, standard operating procedure is that when company comes, we clean the house.  For our big dinners, we also have to rearrange the house completely so there is room for everyone.  We clean top to bottom, and then on top of that, there is cooking to do.  And often times, during the course of the day of the event, my temper is running a little short.  I can get the living room completely spotless, and then the kids will just spend a minute or two in there, and then all the sudden it's covered with toys and pieces of clothing, and I will just get angry.  And they will know that I'm angry when I'm scolding them for making a mess.  Or I will spend time washing my kitchen floor.  I'll be on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor till it sparkles, and is company ready, and then Andy will dribble coffee on it as he's preparing some for guests.  I'll get angry and annoyed.  And yet... if company was already here and it was one of them who spilled the coffee, I would smile, grab a rag and wipe it up, assuring them it's not a big deal. 

1 Peter says to offer hospitality to one another without grumbling, and in those instances I just shared, there is definitely grumbling going on.  And as I look at this verse further, I see that it doesn't differentiate between people.  It doesn't say offer hospitality to guests without grumbling, it says to one another.  That hospitality includes those who live within our walls.   It's crazy to think that those we love the most often get the shortest end of the stick.  I think this is really important to think on, because when we are practicing what the Bible says by offering hospitality to those on the outside, we also need to practice the same hospitality on the inside.

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."  Colossians 4:6

This verse doesn't just apply to people outside of your home.  It also applies within the home.  It says let your conversation ALWAYS be full of grace.  That includes those times when your dear son spills a glass of juice all over the table, chair and floor because he was goofing around.  That includes those times that you walk into your bedroom and see their toys All. Over. The. Place.  because their rooms were too messy to play in that day. 

We need to practice hospitality within before we can really do a good job of practicing hospitality on others.  If we're only practicing it on others, we can think that we're following the instructions in our Bibles, but we're really not.   As a parent sometimes that's really difficult, because it's so easy to just scold our kids for doing something that we'd rather they not do.  And yet... when we have company over with children, we usually ask that they pick up their toys and games before they leave, but then we always say they don't really have to- that it's not a big deal.  We certainly don't tell our own children that.  They are forced to spend an entire afternoon in their rooms until the mess is picked up.  Grace.  Hospitality.  Both should be practiced in the home first.

The dictionary defines hospitality as hospitable treatment, reception or disposition.  And hospitable means offering a pleasant or sustaining environment.   As homemakers, as stewards of the home that God has entrusted to us, it is our job to offer this pleasant and sustaining environment to all who are within our homes- including the people who live here with us.  Our family should come first, and I suspect that as we practice this hospitality here in the home first, it will get even easier to practice hospitality to those from the outside. 

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