Friday, September 20, 2013

The rewards of offering hospitality to others

Romans 12:13
1 Kings 17:10-24
Hospitality is expensive. It costs a great deal of time, money, and energy. Sometimes almsgiving is easier, since you can give it without expending hardly any time or energy, but the rewards are less...material.
reminding myself of the blessings while facing the cost
The widow of Zarephath was in need herself. She didn't share out of her excess: she didn't even have enough to continue caring for herself and her son. Elijah's first request for water represented a gift of energy which must have been costly for a starving woman (during a drought no less) who had to draw all her water from a well, not simply turn on a faucet. Yet she was willing to give him that water and trusted his word to bake him some bread before making some for herself and her son. That level of hospitality is far beyond what most of us have experienced or offered to others. Yet the cost, though incredibly high, brought an incredible return: food for the duration of the drought when she and her son had been faced with death, and complete healing for her son after he sickened and died.
The level of hospitality which my husband and I offer to others has been an adjustment for me. It is many times more intense than what I grew up with. Yet whenever I face the mound of dirty dishes after a dinner party, I remember all the blessings we have received, which far exceed the cost we have paid. A gift isn't usually brought to us by our guests, nor is it expected nor desired. Yet frequently I find that gifts we receive can trace their paths back to the guests we've hosted: The conversation during a meal will uncover the fact that our guests are trying to get rid of the very item we are looking to buy (or vice versa). A guest in one week is looking for the very job which a guest the next week wants to hire someone to fill. A story related gives us exactly the answer we're looking for in a situation we're dealing with as parents. Just the fact that we've invested in the relationship causes someone to think of us when they come across a deal or an item we could use which another acquaintance of theirs is seeking to get rid of. It was expensive (in time and energy mostly) to spend my day with those people, and now I have to play catch up in dishes, housecleaning, and all the normal chores I didn't complete yesterday because I was prepping food and hosting dinner. Yet despite the fact that dropping a few dollars in the poor box would be easier, the hospitality offered has brought greater rewards in the relationship built, the community strengthened, and maybe even in actual material benefits to myself and my family.

Linked with Fellowship Friday and Modest Monday

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