I love Pinterest – the recipes, birthday ideas, and classroom resources. However, I also must be wise and careful while I pin. The fun ideas are great, but they can also be a source of ungodly discontentment in my heart. This discontentment can lead to many other sin issues, with one of them being not stewarding the resources (such as my house) God has given me for his glory. Christians are commanded to show hospitality (Rom. 12:13). Unfortunately, this is a command many believers shy away from. There’s many reasons for this, but I believe our desire for Pinterest-perfect is definitely one of them.
Does hospitality really have to be Pinterest-perfect?
Our culture makes “hospitality” and “entertaining” interchangeable words, when in reality, they’re not. I believe many of us don’t obey the hospitality command, because we’re actually thinking of entertaining.
Ultimately, entertaining is for the glory of self and is about impressing our guests. If our aim is to impress others, then we feel the pressure to have the newest decor line from Target and a 5-star worthy meal. Dear friends, Scripture never calls us to have a spotless home. It never calls us to throw birthday parties so extravagant it puts ourselves and wallets under stress. Scripture simply calls us to, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Pet. 4:9).
Biblical hospitality is what Rosaria Butterfield calls, “radically-ordinary hospitality.” While entertaining focuses on self, biblical hospitality focuses on others. When we’re participating in the hospitality God calls us to, the mindset is no longer, “How can I make myself look good?,” but “How can I make others feel loved?” In The Gospel Comes With a House Key, Rosaria says hospitality is, “using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God.” I believe Satan gives this “Pinterest-perfect” lie, because using our homes as embassies for Christ (another Butterfield term!) is absolutely against what he wants. Therefore, Satan tempts us to live for the glory of self. He reminds us our recipes aren’t fancy or our walls need a fresh coat of paint, and we shrink back from the hospitality God commands. When we replace this lie with truth, though, there’s beautiful freedom. When I view my home as a gift from God to steward for his Kingdom (and not mine), there’s pressure lifted. When using this gift is about loving others well instead of making myself look good, I don’t worry so much about the juice stain on my couch.
Though biblical hospitality is ordinary, there are sacrifices to be made. In order to use our homes to love others well, we’ll sacrifice money, time, and comforts. We might even sacrifice pride as we discipline children in front of others. Biblical hospitality forces us to be real. At church, it’s often easy to put on a smile and hide our sin. However, when we truly invite people into our homes and lives, they might see moments of panic as the bread burns, or frustration toward misbehaving children. However, it’s in these moments of real where we can point to the very real grace of Jesus.
Biblical hospitality is more than fancy dinner parties. It’s a lifestyle. It’s using living rooms to disciple. It’s using kitchens to cook for new moms. It’s using grocery shopping time to pick up needs for others. It’s using kitchen tables to make someone feel welcome. It’s inviting others into our lives- messiness and all. Though it can be messy, biblical hospitality is also beautiful. There’s something about sharing a meal that welcomes true fellowship. As we love others in very ordinary ways, I believe the Lord will give us the opportunity to share the Gospel and disciple them. Ultimately, we show hospitality because it’s a small glimpse of the Gospel. The Father loves us despite our baggage and sin, and in Christ, he gives us a seat at his table. The least we can do is open our homes and hearts to give a seat at our table to others who need the good news of the gospel.
Friends, biblical hospitality starts in our hearts (& is something I’m very much a work-in-progress on). We need to ask the Lord to open our hearts to welcome others in our lives. We need his help to desire pleasing the Lord, not man. When pleasing man is the goal, we get caught up with impressing guests. However, when our aim is to please the Lord, we’ll love others as he calls us to. We need to ditch the lie our homes have to be perfectly decorated in order to show hospitality. We must lay aside our excuses and fears and open our doors and hearts. We must take our eyes off ourselves and look to the needs of others.
This world isn’t our home. Our money and possessions will one day fade. The question is, will we use these fading things for the unfading glory of God? Will we use them to build our kingdom, that will one day crumble, or God’s Kingdom, that’s eternal? May we open our hearts, homes, and grocery lists in radically ordinary ways, so others will see the radical love of Christ!
- The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield (this book has really influenced my thinking on hospitality & was one of the things that shaped several ideas in this post)
- These episodes of Journeywomen Podcast are super helpful- Hospitality in the Midst of a Crisis and their other episodes on hospitality.