Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:8-11
The last post in this series touched on lessons God has taught me as a single woman hosting company in her home – whether a dorm room, apartment, or house. Seasons come and go. Sometimes my home is not available for hosting people. This school year has been one such season. Work has been so much more demanding that the time and where-with-all to have people over is not available as much as I would like. Instead of wishing and wallowing in self-pity that my home is going to waste (although, there has been some of that…), God reminds me that He has given me other venues of practicing the Christian art of hospitality: my car, my workplace, my church.
One of my biggest material blessings from God is my car. Eleven years, 98,000+ miles, a new roof, new fender, and new windshield later, and we’re still going strong. Now, I can tend to take a more utilitarian view of my car. The car is meant to transport people and things. I don’t often think of keeping it as clean as my home, or decorated like my home. So, I’m usually more mindful of the readiness of the house than the state of my car. (OK, who am I kidding? I’m always more mindful about the cleanliness of the house. The only time I think about the cleanliness of my car is a brief twinge of guilt whenever I happen to look in the back seat… which isn’t that often). I don’t think about it needing the same kind of peaceful atmosphere for hospitality that my home does. That is, until I suddenly need to give someone a ride. If I have half empty water bottles, a Kleenex box, items to be returned, and dishes (I know, right?) scattered around the inside of my car, I have a feeling that my car will speak of stress much louder than my cheerfulness will speak of peace. Granted, I’m not going to decorate or invest as much time in my car as my house, but now I ask myself: Is the car clean? Does it smell good? Am I a safe and courteous driver? Do I tend to let the gas needle get dangerously close to empty? What purposeful conversation and music happens during the drive? Do I give people rides begrudgingly? Am I giving rides out of Christ’s love in my heart? It’s not unreasonable take a few minutes to make sure my car is as hospitable as my home.
I have the blessing of a classroom in which I can practice hospitality to students, parents, and co-workers every day. I have the freedom to pick out the decorations, set the behavior rules, arrange supplies, and decorate to a certain extent. I keep notecards, gum, and chocolate in my desk for teacher friends that may need them. But, as I mentioned in “Hospitality in the Home”, that is not enough to make a place hospitable. Do I welcome students or co-workers when they interrupt the other work I have at that moment? Do I greet others with a smile — a genuine, glad-to-see-you smile? Does my desk speak chaos or peace? Do my ears listen for the well-being of those who come by or are my lips quick to encourage gossip? Hospitality is possible whether I have a classroom or a cubicle.
Another place to practice hospitality that may get overlooked is the local church. All who enter need to be welcomed, visitors and long-time members. Is there someone habitually sitting alone? Is there a new visiting mom who needs someone to help get her kids to Sunday school? Is there someone who needs to be cheered? Hugged? Encouraged? How can I contribute to the needs of the saints on Sunday mornings?
God has given the means and the grace for me to practice what He commands. Hospitality in the home is so important, but, praise God, my ability to practice hospitality is not limited to the home.