Originally published Monday, 06 February 2012.
I love Valentine’s Day! Not because of the candy, cards and the chance that I’ll get to finally wear that new dress out on a date with my man. But because it is a fun time to share a little bit of Jesus' love with neighbors, coworkers and friends during this "season of love."
As Valentine's Day approaches, I also like to take a good hard look at my “love life.” I consider how I’ve been loving my hubby, my family, friends and those around me. And this verse popped into my quiet reflection:
Love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
What does loving each other deeply look like?
The verses following this statement might give us some insight:
Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:9-11 NASU
I pondered how a deep love can indeed cover over sins because of forgiveness. And while forgiveness is undoubtedly part of this deep love package, the context of that forgiveness is where I want to focus our attention. Hospitality -- it isn’t easy, is it?
Right around the time Eric and I got engaged, he had been reading the biography of a well known pastor from eons ago. The pastor’s sermons were great, but the extra anointing came from a special bond that was formed between the pastor, his wife, and the congregation through the way the ministry couple opened their home so freely to everyone. Knowing we were headed into full-time ministry, and God’s Word on the subject, we began praying for a special gift of hospitality.
Some years ago, my husband and I were part of a church plant. We met in a school auditorium on Sunday mornings. Our weekly Bible study groups met in homes. We hosted two and sometimes three of those groups a week. As we added another meeting to our living room, the foot traffic through our home on a typical week reached 60-plus people. When I calculated the food and foot traffic I knew why I had been so tired!
During that revolving door season, as I prepared for another small group, I told the Lord I wasn’t sure if this hospitality thing was really my gift. (That was my tiredness talking!) The Lord reminded me of our prayer years earlier and also of this verse. Love spills onto the pages of people’s lives through simple acts of hospitality. Yes, as the verses states there are “special” gifts given to each of us that we must be faithful to use. But all of us are called to hospitality.
I know a woman who has hosted a Friday night Bible study for more than thirty years. Antiques and furniture have been broken. The carpet has been spilled on more times than anyone could count. She has stayed up late as families fellowshipped into the wee hours of the night -- even through her husband had already retired for an early morning wake-up call. She has made more pots of coffee than probably anyone I know -- even though she is an English tea drinker herself and doesn’t touch coffee. Children have been loud, and at times, downright unruly. And through her hospitality people have learned God’s Word together, been prayed over, cried over, cared for and deeply loved. I know. I am one of them.
A deep love for people is required to be a hospitable person -- not just a we-have-fun-at-her-parties-person, but a truly open-home, open-hearted person. It stretches and tests my ability to love people when someone comes over and is judgmental or prying. It stretches my selflessness when someone breaks a piece of furniture. People are messy. And inviting their mess into mine requires nothing less than a supernatural love from God.
It takes a lot ‘o love to cover over the multitude of spills, bumps, and mishaps. Yes, looking through eyes of love covers over harsh words, failed expectations and the many impasses we come to in our relationships. But in a tangible sense, if we are going to love deeply it will require us to authentically open our hearts, homes and lives. Hospitality is a vital part of the deep love God calls us to.
Who do you know might be blessed through:
-An invite to lunch after church?
-A place to do laundry (think about the college students at your church or in your neighborhood)?
-Does a small group need a home to meet in?
-Is there an elderly person that you could bring a meal to and share some time with? (Hospitality can travel!)