Do you know the difference between being hospitable or entertaining people? Many people have grown up used to having folks in their homes all the time. It could be students after school, a sports team, cast of a play, youth group, missionaries, bosses, or simply just good friends coming over. For many, it may be a huge ordeal and make you stress to think about what to have, what to wear, cleaning and preparation. The difference is do you think about an informal gathering with your guests being hospitable to them or do you feel you have to put on some sort of show?
Proverbs 15:17 says "Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred." This verse says to me it is better to serve hot dogs and potato chips and be relaxed than to stress out trying to make it all perfect. Proverbs 17:1 says "Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife." Ecclesiastes 4:6 says "Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind." Remember Martha and Mary when Jesus was coming for a visit? One of them was all stressed and running around in a tizzy and the other was saying in effect "Chill out, calm down". You can read it in Luke 10:38-42 and as you may recall Mary was calm wanting to visit with Jesus and listen to his teaching and Martha was all sort of 'strung out' fretting over the preparations to make things in her estimation, perfect.
I feel friends, or strangers, would rather have you peaceful than all strung out and not able to enjoy their visit. There are rare exceptions of those whose talent and gift lies in doing lots of fancy preparations and it does not phase them but for the rest of us try to calm down and be hospitable. Do not worry about the 'dust bunnies' or a magazine out of place. Try to relax and enjoy your company. Do not feel you have to try out some new recipe to impress someone. If someone drops in you did not expect be a servant of the Lord and put on an extra plate and serve them what you are going to eat. I remember an incident several years ago with country spare ribs and a drop in guest. This is something I serve on New Years but during the year I would not think of it as supper guest fare. But we had a surprise visitor and I hardly had enough for three people but I prayed over that crock pot and the dinner and I had more than enough to spare and as I recall we enjoyed our visit. The gentleman, who was an Army friend of my husbands, loved the ribs too. How about that?
Remember the command to entertain strangers too? You never know when one might be an angel. Matthew 35:35 says "For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in." Do not wait for a special occasion and if you are able help someone. Once in the middle of the night a friend called us cause his car had broken down and needed help. I thought of the Bible verse that said 'if a man comes to you at midnight for bread do not turn him away." Luke 11:5-8 says "Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ “Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs."
Are you that midnight friend, the drop in brother, the unannounced employee from out of town, the needy stranger? Hebrew 13:2 says "Remember to welcome strangers, because some who have done this have welcomed angels without knowing it." Do not worry about fine china, special gourmet food or all the preparations. Relax and give it to God. There will be times you need to 'entertain' but better to be 'hospitable' for the Lord and enjoy your time with your guests.
PRAYER: Father in heaven, I thank you for the abundance of food I have and for the ability to cook. I thank you for the home you have provided for me. Help me Lord to look for opportunities to open my doors to not just friends but to those who need a friend. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Book Recommendation: 'Open Heart Open Home' by Karen Burton Mains. It spoke to me several years ago and perhaps it will speak to you.