“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Romans 15:7, ESV

Oh, how we all desire and need to feel welcomed, invited, wanted, and accepted; this is deep in each of us. And yet pride and fear can get in the way of our deepest desires. Pride whispers that we should seek to be admired when we need to be loved. To be admired often requires always presenting an attractive, flawless, competent, and strong front; it requires hiding weakness. But to be loved requires that we are received in our vulnerability and ordinariness as well as in our shining competencies—genuine hospitality centers on love, not on admiration.

My mentor for this topic is Karen Mains, author of Open Heart, Open Home, a classic book centered around Christian hospitality that continues to bless readers today. Here are some things I learned from her:

  • Secular entertaining can be burdensome as it centers on my performance and me as a hostess. Biblical hospitality is freeing as it centers around others and their well-being.
  • Jesus asks us to welcome one another as he accepts us. He receives us as we are, loves us in our weakness, and by grace always welcomes us into his arms.
  • “Hospitality seeks to minister. It says, ‘This home is not mine. It is truly a gift from my master. I am his servant, and I use it as he desires.’ Hospitality does not try to impress, but to serve.”
  • When guests have spent time with us, our goal must be to help them leave feeling better about themselves, not better about us.

Indeed, if we can step away from the need to impress, we allow our humanness, with its limits and giftedness, to show and bless our guests. When we work hard to keep others from recognizing our weaknesses, we prevent them from loving us as we truly are, flaws and all. We also prevent them from feeling they can be genuine with us.

Godly hospitality puts away its pride. It is a learned and practiced virtue. The objective of hospitality is to open our hearts and homes humbly and authentically. How do we develop a more open heart and a more open home? Let us offer a warm welcome by seeking to be present, not perfect. We can grow in doing this well through reminders, prayer, and practice. As we grow in this virtue, it will be a beautiful gift to others and ourselves.

by Pastor June Barrow