Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. I Peter 4:8-10 NIV
What does it mean for the single woman to practice hospitality? I find it a bit confusing at times. Is it inviting people over for a meal? If so, I face the barriers of not having a home and a spouse. I also encounter insecurity about appearing “grown up” to those who have children and husbands.
Is there more to being hospitable as a single woman and for that matter, women in every stage of life, than baked chicken, matching plates, and fresh flowers on the table? I looked up the word “hospitality” and the Greek word literally means “love of strangers.” Another definition I found helpful is “the quality or disposition of receiving or treating guests in a warm, friendly, generous manner.” Warm, friendly, and generous? Now those are worth pondering.
I started to think about how God shows hospitable qualities toward us. As guests in the world He created, we are strangers to His love because of our rebellion against Him. In spite of our brokenness, God’s heart doesn’t recoil from us because our indifference, hatred, and lack of belief. The Christmas message reveals His warmth of heart and compassion for our confusion and insecurity.
As the baby Jesus let out his first cry, God reached into our world by showing us that our friendship is worth everything to Him. He sent Jesus as tangible evidence. He is a God who wants to interact about what concerns us, brings a smile to our faces, and makes us feel like we are making a difference. He makes the sacrifice to restore our friendship.
God’s generosity demonstrates His hospitality. Even when we are unable to respond, He gives beyond what we can wrap our brains around. He generously gave His son, as a helpless infant into the arms of godly yet flawed parents and a turbulent society. He knew Jesus’ road of misunderstanding, suffering, and a painful death. God took the ultimate risk to give and experience loss for the sake of infinite gain.
When I consider the hospitality of God, I want to be a conduit of His love for strangers. Instead of the attitude, “I don’t have time. The person doesn’t seem interested anyway. I’m sure they have people who care about them.” I want to pray for warmth of heart toward people and a genuine desire to enter into their stories.
I want to move toward people in friendship by making sacrifices. It may sometimes mean giving up spending as much time with people who I feel more comfortable with. It may mean sacrificing what I feel like is the “right” setting to embrace a guest. It may mean looking beyond responses which feel like the person doesn’t care as much about me.
Sister, what barriers do you face to hospitality? How does God’s hospitality toward us in the birth of Christ make a difference to you? ~Laura