When we moved in our house 3 years ago, I admit I was a bit embarrassed by the square footage. Is it a mansion by celebrity standards? No. Is it more than 3 human beings really need? Yes.
Why, then, did we go for it? We love opening our home to others. If we had the means to do so, we wanted to buy a home that would welcome a large number comfortably. We wanted the opportunity to host cookouts, church meetings, prayer groups, fundraisers, or whatever else came our way. We wanted our parents to have a first-floor bedroom in case they ever had joint problems or injuries. I wanted enough room for my sister to visit without needing a hotel for their family of 5. Hospitality – not stuffy entertaining, mind you – is a core value in our household.
I realize one can be hospitable absolutely anywhere, from a shack to a one-room cabin to an Oprah-sized estate. I learned this at the feet of my mother, who exemplified Jesus’ extravagant generosity. While my parents were not wealthy, my childhood felt rich. Our home was often full, and there was always enough food. I saw Mom take countless meals to families whose mothers were sick or injured or families who had lost loved ones. I saw her put her sleeping bag next to the most challenging child in the class on our overnight field trip. One December, she made sure my classmate, who wore jeans much too tight and short, received a new pair from Santa. That’s the kind of hospitality I saw every day.
I understand, then, that the size of a home has nothing on the size of a heart. Here’s what I believe: nothing we own is really ours, and if we don’t share it, we don’t deserve it. Everything we possess – belongings, talents, skills, gifts – is God’s gift and we are stewards of it. Therefore, I will use what I have without reservation and give without measure. Do I save for Henry’s college years or put away money for my and Keith’s retirement? Yep, sure do. But I also make sure to live life now and make life better for others now.
I know some people don’t enjoy having large groups of people in their home. That’s ok! Invite one friend, one couple. Maybe find a senior citizen in your church or other community who would not only love some company, but whose presence would bless you far more than you may know. My friend Jenn likes to remember Proverbs 17:1: “Better to eat a dry crust of bread with peace of mind than have a banquet in a house full of trouble.” The food, the dishes, the tablecloth… those aren’t what people take away. They remember your grace.
Keith and I are expectant and eager when preparing our home for guests. We are honored they would choose to spend time with us. And if we can share the love of Jesus along the way, that is the ultimate gift.
Jesus didn’t run projects, establish ministries, create programs, or put on events. He ate meals.
— Tim Chester, A Meal with Jesus
May we be more like Jesus in the way we share our table. After all, it’s why we have this table in the first place.