Trillia Newbell: The gift of hospitality

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, November 18th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Here’s WORLD Commentator Trillia Newbell now on being hospitable.

TRILLIA NEWBELL, COMMENTATOR: On my recent trip to Rwanda, I spent a few days in small, countryside villages. One day, our group enjoyed a meal with women who are artisans in the community. 

The home was made of mud bricks. The floor was a similar dusty color and consistency. Our host, Primitive, cooked our meal on an outside stove with a visible fire and an iron pot. 

In our Western culture, the idea of bringing anyone into a home that isn’t perfectly tidy is an embarrassment. And let’s be honest, often we want much more than just normal tidiness. 

And the reasons for our hesitation can go beyond appearances. We also allow lack of space or resources to be a hindrance to our hospitality. 

Six years ago, my family downsized—first into an apartment, then into a small ranch style home. Although we have a great deal more amenities—like running water and full electricity—the size of our home isn’t much bigger than my sister’s home in Rwanda. 

When we first moved into the area I hesitated to say that I lived in an apartment. Instead I’d say something like, “I live in the neighborhood off the major interstate.” Soon the Lord convicted me of pride and fear of man. I thank God for that revelation and the repentance that followed! 

But then visiting friends began to request to stay in our apartment. Our new home felt too small to be truly welcoming. We live in a box, filled with boxes, I thought. There’s no way I can host.

In the first century, hospitality was a matter of survival. So the Apostle Peter reminded Christians not to complain during this common activity. He urged his readers to “show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9). 

In that same passage Peter tells us to “keep loving one another earnestly,” and “as each has received a gift, use it to serve one another” (1 Peter 4:8, 10). Hospitality is a practical way to love your neighbor as yourself and fan into flame the gift that God has given you.

And Peter wasn’t alone. The Apostle Paul charged early Christians to “contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:13). Hospitality and caring for the needs of others marks our faith. 

Note that Peter and Paul gave no qualifiers. They did not say, “Show hospitality if you have a lot of room and all of your possessions are neatly stored.” 

As the holidays approach, let’s remember that hospitality isn’t about the what, when, and where. It’s about the who. It’s about the person we get to welcome in and love.

And in that spirit, we are to offer what we have, in love, and trust God to bless our guests. They might not remember your space, but they will surely remember your care. That’s exactly what I remember most about my sister in Rwanda. 

For WORLD Radio, I’m Trillia Newbell.

(Photo/Creative Commons)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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