Welcome back for our chapter 6 discussion on Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others by Pat Ennis & Lisa Tatlock. This is part 6 of an eight week discussion on this book. Past chapter summaries can be viewed here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 & part 5.We are so glad you decided to join us! I Even if you are not participating in the study, I encourage you to keep reading. Chapter 6 focused on Hospitality & Others.
James 1:14-16 begins this chapter, “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Goodbye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’ – but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?”
What is Biblical Compassion?
Hospitality is not about you and me. It is “a sense of empathy for the distress of others coupled with the desire to minimize that distress and demonstrate kindness and mercy.” Compassionate hospitality takes the attention off of ourselves and directs it upon others. Compassion leads to action. Jesus is our primary example. He actively felt compassion for the lost and hungry multitudes that constantly surrounded Him and demanded His attention. He tirelessly gave Himself to meet their needs, both physical (with the provision of food) and spiritually (ministering to their heart). Read more: Matt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:31-44; 8:2; Luke 9:11-17.
If we follow in the footsteps of Jesus our hospitality will include: nurturing the abandoned; providing material needs; weeping, mourning, praying, and, when appropriate, fasting for others; sharing your faith with the spiritually bankrupt (Matt. 11:28-30); encouraging the weak and oppressed (Isa. 40:11; 42:3; Matt. 12:18-21); assisting with the needs of the infirm; and modeling biblical compassion.
Once again, we see that practicing hospitality does not have to be limited to the home. Consider Jesus who demonstrated hospitality continually without a place to lay His head.
The chapter continues by focusing on seven different categories of people to whom we can demonstrate this compassionate hospitality.
Singles – The U.S.’s 86 million single adults could soon define the new majority.
Widows – In 1999 almost half of the women over 65 were widows.
The Grieving – These are often desperately needing nourishment but have no desire to eat. What emotional support can you provide along with physical food?
The hospitalized - the hospital is a lonely, and often restless place. What basket goodies could you bring?
Those with dietary restrictions – always ask your guests, “do you have any food allergies or restrictions in your diet?
Individuals with food insecurity (low-income, poverty-level, or homeless)
How can you prayerfully consider reaching out to these various people groups?
Compassionate Hospitality (poem shared by the authors)
“I gave a little dinner party
this evening at six.
The guests were such a blessing -
I really enjoyed the mix.
The widow shared her wisdom,
the single her homeless ministry,
the young couple their vision for working with troubled teens
and I my passion for meeting women’s special needs.
As we ate and prayed together (two staples of biblical hospitality)
our hearts were filled with compassion
and the desire to impact eternity!”
I feel like this chapter really brought the attention back again to demonstrating hospitality to those who cannot repay you, as described in Luke 14:12-14. It challenged me to evaluate prayerfully how I could begin reaching out to these different categories of people to demonstrate Biblical compassion. I want to strive to not just reach out to those in my age category or season of life, but to purposefully include those outside of my season of life. It is easy just to be comfortable with those who have similar interests and desires rather than also considering those who are different then ourselves. Once again, practicing biblical hospitality is so much more than simply extending it to my circle of friends. It is asking myself with each extension of hospitality, “how can I include someone who cannot repay me? Who might need physical or spiritual refreshment that I could provide? Who might be lonely that we could include and minister to?”
We will continue this book next time, Monday, March 30, with chapter 7: Hospitality & Culture. If you are interested in joining us, please do. Order your copy today here!
I am interested in hearing what you took away from this chapter. Feel free to post comments below or write your thoughts on your blog (and come back and post the link in the comments). No need to share anything profound, just whatever stood out to you.
How can you purposefully start to include these different people groups in your hospitality practices?We would love to hear your creative ideas.