December 5, 2016
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:9-10 (NIV)
My Crock-Pot is a culinary eyesore. Oh, on the day it was purchased, it was actually a gorgeous and functional domestic tool — sleek and shiny, with a new-fangled “keep warm” feature. But today, this kitchen staple sits silently on my pantry shelf, nicked and chipped — nearly tuckered out from two decades of use.
Although I hate to admit it, at times I have succumbed to slow cooker envy. Especially when I spy some of the stunning new styles. Some are digital, and programmable. Others have cute little clip-on signs to showcase what’s simmering inside just waiting to delight everyone’s taste buds. And then, there sits my dilapidated model. Not pretty, but well-loved.
You see, my aging slow cooker has been an important ministry partner to me.
It has housed batches of homemade three-alarm chili for the hungry football team. It has served vegetable soup to an exhausted mom who’d just welcomed a newborn baby after a scary, surgical delivery. It has contained savory beef stew that nourished the bodies of a grieving family we invited over to eat after the recent death of a loved one. Most often, it has warmed the tummies of my own family during an ordinary Sunday supper served on our old oak farm table.
I could grouse about the not-so-newness of my Crock-Pot, wishing for a newer model with all the bells and whistles — and sometimes I have. But as long as she’s still chugging, I have determined to be grateful and not grumble. To just keep cooking. And inviting. And washing. And drying. And doing it all over again.
When we share our gifts, talents and ordinary household items to bless and serve others, we aren’t just being nice. We’re being obedient to God’s Word as our key verse says:
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:9-10).
When we have a God-honoring perspective about our possessions and resources, our hearts and homes can become a wheelhouse for ministry. We can lead with our hearts and bless with our homes. Our homes become a haven — not only for those who dwell there permanently — but for whomever God sends our way. And believe me, He will send people your way.
Our aim should be the same for all of these guests. We don’t offer hospitality — or a home-cooked meal — to impress them. Instead, we want to refresh them. To give them a place where they can relax and unwind. To provide a setting where they can talk and question and contemplate. Most of all, we offer our homes to God as a ministry tool in building His kingdom here on earth. To use our gifts to serve others, displaying God’s grace as we do.
Yes, along with the scrapes and scratches of our kitchen utensils can come work for God’s kingdom. We can weave the gospel into conversations with others. Rock babies as we give their weary moms a break. Encourage teens when they fail to make the team or land a part in the play. Study the Bible, asking big questions and growing our belief. Feed tummies. And fill hearts.
When we offer hospitality with gusto, without grumbling, or complaining, or fretting over our not-so-nice-anymore stuff, we are doing exactly what pleases God — using our gifts for His glory.
A chipped and nicked Crock-Pot is a holy thing indeed.
Father, may I make it my aim today to open both my heart and home without grumbling, using whatever gifts You have given me to serve others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Hebrews 13:16, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (NIV)
Philemon 1:7, “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people.” (NIV)
For practical ideas for using your gifts and passions to bless and serve others, grab a copy of Karen Ehman’s newest book Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World.
It’s holiday party time over at Karen’s blog as she celebrates her latest book release by kicking off the 12 Days of Christmas Kindness series of giveaways! Click your way over to join the online interaction and fun, and also enter to win the first day's giveaway: a 6-quart programmable slow cooker along with a copy of Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
When it comes to willingly using your possessions — and opening your home — without grumbling, what letter grade would you give yourself? If your grade needs improving, what can you begin to do to see that grade go up?
© 2016 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.
Originally published Monday, 05 December 2016.