The Secret to Gracious Hospitality - Encouragement for Today - November 20, 2017

Melissa Michaels

November 20, 2017
The Secret to Gracious Hospitality

“Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way.” Genesis 18:4-5a (NIV)

Many years ago, I met a young newlywed who’d just started attending our church. She was eight weeks away from having her first baby. As we began to get acquainted, I knew I should extend an invitation to host a baby shower for her.

But my weekly to-do list felt so long, my budget too small and my time was short. Instead of jumping at the opportunity to bless her, I became paralyzed by the effort that would be required.

My mind wandered back to the year before, when I was the guest of honor at a baby shower. My husband and I were new to a small church plant. One of the pastors’ wives planned a baby shower for me and invited all the ladies in the church.

She barely knew me, and I didn’t know anyone else, so I was beyond grateful for her hospitality and looked forward to the opportunity for connection. Yet arriving 30 minutes late to my own party looking like a hot mess was not the first impression I wanted to make. In my defense, it was a 95-degree day. My swollen pregnancy feet wouldn’t fit into any of my shoes, so I’d left the house unfashionably late.

As I turned on to her street lined with parked cars, I noticed the hostess’ driveway was curiously empty. Hanging on the garage door was a large, brightly colored poster board with the words “Welcome, Mama!” Taped to the corner of the poster board was a photo of me, taken the Sunday before.

I was so touched that she’d thoughtfully considered my needs before I even arrived, reserving a parking spot just for me. Before I even had a chance to lug my belly out of the car and set my puffy feet on her porch, the pastor’s wife flung the front door open and welcomed me inside.

Immediately I began stammering out awkward apologies and explaining how unworthy I was of such lavish attention, but she waved her hands to stop me mid-excuse. “Don’t be silly. Come in, little mama. Let me grab you a plate. I saved you a comfy spot where you can put your feet up and rest.”

She handed me a cold drink and a pink paper plate filled with dainty finger sandwiches held together by toothpicks. Strangers became friends as they gathered around the table, delighting in pretty little cupcakes and party games.

I may have arrived at the party feeling alone and unworthy, but I headed home feeling loved. As I reflected on what that day meant to me, I realized I never wanted to forget what it felt like to be the receiver of generous hospitality.

Knowing how much it meant to me, why did I hesitate to offer a friend that same invitation? I had made being a hostess about meeting my needs, rather than serving someone else.

Our key Bible verse offers an example of what it takes to be such a generous host. In this story, Abraham honored his guests by anticipating and meeting their needs. He knew they’d be thirsty, hungry and dirty from traveling. He wanted them to feel refreshed for their journey ahead.

Abraham didn’t half-heartedly or tight-fistedly practice hospitality. He went above and beyond to serve his guests generously. He didn’t scrounge around in the back of his cupboard to see what remnants he could throw together. He asked for the finest flour for the bread and found a choice calf for the meat in Genesis 18:6-8.

He even decided to delegate some of the key tasks to simplify the preparations, so he was able to manage the responsibilities and still offer his very best.

A genuine heart for hospitality isn’t about finding ways to impress guests; it’s about cultivating a desire to use our gifts and offer what we have to honor and generously serve those around us. A hostess can let God's love really shine.

With that divine opportunity in mind, I couldn't wait to message my new friend and offer her the same invitation I received the year before. We held a baby shower that was delightful, and I pray it blessed her life as much as it blessed mine.

Dear Lord, we’re so grateful for the love You lavish on us. May we graciously open our doors to extend Your love to people You bring across our path. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Romans 12:9-10, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (NIV)

For practical help creating get-togethers you and your guests will enjoy, try Simple Gatherings by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Michaels. Inside you’ll find 50 affordable and inspired ideas to turn any get-together into a great experience for you, your family and friends.

Follow Melissa’s award-winning blog The Inspired Room to read more about her adventures in a fixer-upper and find tips for how to decorate, organize and love your home!

Enter to WIN a copy of Simple Gatherings by Melissa Michaels. In celebration of this book, Harvest House will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one by Monday, November 27, 2017.}

What are some simple ways you could make guests feel special and honored while hosting them in your home?

© 2017 by Melissa Michaels. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Harvest House Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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Originally published Monday, 20 November 2017.