Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.
Once upon a time there was a young girl who was full of life. She smiled her way through school and made friends with everyone in her path. She found her joy in people, old and young, and never refused an invitation.
But then she grew older.
And slowly, almost imperceptibly, she changed. She no longer sought out the company of people but drew into herself and hid there. She felt shy, confused, conflicted and lost. What had happened and what should she do about it?
No answer came and for years she lived this way. She had friends, but not many, and she held most at arms length. Until she began to pray about it, asking God to help her find that little girl from so long ago. The one who loved people in spite of their flaws. The one who often loved people because of their flaws.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
At first she heard only silence. And she almost decided it was useless. That the litle girl was gone and this new, older, more subdued and careful woman now stood in her place. Until, that is, she heard herself approach somebody unprovoked and invite them to get together.
She was dumbfounded. She hadn’t seen this twist in the plot coming and she panicked a little. What would she say? What would they talk about? Maybe she should cancel.
But she didn’t. Bravely, she went out into the cold, hard world and embraced a new friendship. Her heart pounded a little with the stress that she’d underperform and make a mess of the whole thing. And yet, she found she didn’t actually have to perform at all. She just had to show up.
That first experience opened a long closed door, albeit only slightly. But it gave her a springboard and the courage to once again make room for the friendly little girl who used to reside within.
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.
As you’ve probably guessed, that little girl was me. As is the hardened-by-life introvert who took her place. What a conflict of personality and emotion. But the beautiful part is that both those apects of my character now color my view of the world, giving me the unique opportunity to learn to live outside my comfort rather than just dabble in it.
Because it still isn’t comfortable for me to initiate a conversation, let alone a friendship. The introvert in me stands gawking in utter disbelief when it hears itself inviting a large group of people over for an evening of fellowship. And that same introvert runs to her husband in bewilderment to ask him why she did it and if he thinks perhaps she actually has gone crazy?
Thankfully, he always just has a good laugh and reminds me that I actually like people when I let myself.
What a revelation. What an amazing God.
And so over the course of time, my door has swung wide open. My home has been filled with the steady stream of friends, new and old. My table has made way for many so that they might leave with full tummies and warm hearts.
Because sometimes hospitality doesn’t have to come naturally and can instead come intentionally.
But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
My home is imperfect. It is humble, ill-equipped for a crowd, and lacking in frill. And my insecurities and misplaced pride often still scream at me to just stop. To not open the door to those of greater wealth, with prettier homes, with nicer stuff.
But then God nudges me. And tenderly calls me. Because this life isn’t about houses, or money, or perfectly comfortable situations. This life is about people.
And He asks only that we learn to love, freely and without reserve.
Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
I’m still an introvert, make no mistake. I still inwardly recoil at times when faced with being surrounded by people. My heart still fails me at the thought of speaking up to be heard. My eyes still take in the inadaquacies of both my character and my home. My mind still tells me it’s okay to embrace the fact that the little girl long ago left the building.
But my God asks for more. And each time I’ve been willing to give it, He’s made it easier to do it again.