Isaiah 58:7a – Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter? (NIV)
1 Peter 4:9 – Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (NIV)
The Bible has many references directing us to be hospitable. I was blessed to watch my parents practice this teaching on many occasions.
One such occasion happened on a Sunday in 1943. A gentleman from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with his wife and three children, attended our church in Sarnia, Ontario. Following the service, my father learned that he was starting a new job at Canadian Synthetic Rubber the next day, but they still had not been able to find a place to live — a difficult situation indeed.
My father immediately insisted that they come and stay with us until they were properly settled. They actually stayed a month, and I can't remember where we all slept. I am the youngest of six, and while three of my siblings were away serving in the war or studying at university, accommodation and food were tight, to put it mildly.
At the first meal, with five unexpected visitors, my mother whispered "FHB". This was the private code that we knew meant "Family Hold Back". This code had been used before, since my father often brought guests to share our "plenty", often without warning to my mother.
As my mother was filling a dish with fruit to serve our guest for dessert, he responded, "Plenty for me," meaning that what she had already put in the dish was sufficient. As she continued to put more in the dish, he was thinking "What's wrong with her? Is she deaf?" She thought that he was asking for more (plenty) and she wondered how he could be so selfish. Couldn't he see that there were many more mouths to feed? Finally, she said, "I'm sorry. I can't get anything more into your dish."
We all then realized the misunderstanding and had a good laugh, and she took some of his fruit back. While that was 75 years ago and my parents have now gone to their reward, the children are good friends to this day, never having forgotten my parents' hospitality.
I now live in a seniors' residence and frequently observe hospitality being practiced. One Christian lady, in particular, observes when a new resident arrives. After a few days, she invites that person to her suite for a few refreshments and a visit, primarily to make that person welcome. Even in limited space, she is practicing hospitality.
Although not everyone can invite people home for lunch after church, those who can should consider it. At least, we can all reach out to make strangers at our churches feel welcome. Let's all develop the practice of hospitality! We never know where it might lead.
Prayer: Father, help us each to be faithful in following Your Word by showing hospitality to others. May we share what we have, even if it be only a smile. Thank You for Your overwhelming hospitality to us, which we can share with others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Lord This Day Thy Children Meet" (Lyrics)