Read His Words Before Ours!
“Let brotherly love continue.
Don’t neglect to show hospitality,
for by doing this some have welcomed
angels as guests without knowing it.”
Hebrews 13:1-2, reminds us of an event that took place many centuries prior in the life of Abraham. The central truth being that generosity, more specifically hospitality,
is an expression of radical, sacrificial love.
In Genesis 18, the Lord appeared to Abraham. (check out some of his story here)
Abraham looked up and three men were in his presence.
Maybe Abraham had the intuition to know they were angels, but we know he “bowed himself to the ground” as was fitting for his eastern culture. (verse 2) Abraham, a man of influence, great wealth, and many servants, tells the visitors to wait while he prepares a place for them. Then Abraham “hurries” off to find his wife, Sarah, to make dinner for their guests. As they gathered under the spreading branches of oak trees, the Lord once again speaks to Abraham. This time, he explains how Sarah will have a son within a year.
No ordinary son, not a typical newlywed surprise. No. Abraham and Sarah had waited long for the gift of offspring, but now Sarah’s was simply too old to carry children. The blessing of a son, finally, was both outrageous and gleeful. (read Sarah’s story here!)
It’s easy to hurry through the story and focus on the miracle of the baby boy to come, but what we casually gloss over is the invitation.
Abraham and Sarah were blessed by what these men shared, but it was an encounter they would have missed if they had passed up simply being open with their food and tent.
I am 18 years old.
Hospitality looks a little different for me than Abraham and Sarah. I grew up in a home that was quickly turned into a home for others. On any given night, we have extra guests for dinner to this day. This example has affected me and taught me much over the years about living with invitational openness.
This past year as I have been away from home, I’ve discovered this bond and love with other families as well. I’ve been deeply marked and richly blessed because of other’s open invitation to participate in their home life. It’s something I desire so deeply to recreate in the way I treat others and invite them into my “home.”
Sometimes, I think that I get a “pass” for a couple more years on being open like this. That I don’t need to be concerned about hospitality until I’m married with a house and family of my own. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Our homes are certainly a great place to show hospitality,
but it’s not a requirement.
Flash forward, and we see how Jesus fully embodies living with openness.
I think of my Savior bending down to wash the filthy feet of His disciples or stopping mid-stride to engage a hurting woman, calling her daughter.
Jesus shows us that hospitality has more to do with authentic love than a tidy house. Showing people you have time for them, inviting them to feel welcomed, accepted and heard when they are around you. And we can do that anywhere.
Jesus’ example challenges us to look beyond the traditional thought of extending hospitality within the walls of a home. As a traveling preacher with nowhere to lay His head (Luke 9:58), He modeled hospitality along the way as He moved from town to town, and even in the homes of others.
About those physical spaces and living in the mindset of open….
As a single woman and almost college student, there’s something deeply spiritual for me about being invited in by a family.
It’s a sort of safe haven.
A place to soak up as much wisdom as possible.
Space to share a meal and stories of life.
Room to talk about things that matter or even play an intense game of UNO.
An invitation that sweetly declares, “I value spending time with you. I have prepared a place for you.”
Jesus gives us this convicting statement about extending hospitality to those who are vulnerable in Matthew 25:45,
“I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.”
It can be so difficult to offer generous love to people we see as ‘least’ in any given situation. But we are called into it because it’s there where we love sacrificially like Jesus loves.
Something I’ve found really helpful when relating with people who are specifically challenging to love is asking this question to the Lord,
“Jesus, show me what you love about them.”
I use this question of the Lord to help shift my heart towards open when I engage with family, friends, or strangers when I sense my compassion lacking.
Every time, God shows me something in them that honors Him.
Then we can use those words to encourage their hearts, inviting them into an open space of love from the Savior.
Abraham and Sarah’s invitation unknowingly welcomed angels into their midst, not realizing what the conversation would reveal or how deeply they would be blessed.
We create spaces like this whether it’s a dorm room, community space, our home, or even in the words we choose to use with those we struggle to love.
We’re creating a place where people can gather, share real life, and experience Jesus’ love.
When we love through open hospitality,
we love like Christ!
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