Though Peter warns us to be hospitable without grumbling, it does not follow thatÂ hospitality is a drag. Far from it! All those labors I mentioned in the last post (menu planning, table setting, shopping, cooking, cleaning) that are related to hospitality can be very enjoyable. I love having people over for dinner, and I thoroughly enjoy all the aspects of it. But I still have to keep a sharp lookout for temptation, or I can stumble like Martha did. It is always the little foxes that spoil the vineyard.
In 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 Paul says some wonderful and important things that relate to showing hospitality. He says if we sow sparingly, we will reap sparingly; if we sow bountifully, we will reap bountifully. And, by the way, God loves a cheerful giver. He doesn’t want any grumpy sowing. And then in verse 8 he says, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” Notice the use of the word all: all grace, all sufficiency, all things, and every work. Sounds like there are no exceptions. God loves to use the superlative. He will give us all we need to sow bountifully and cheerfully, and He will bless our labors liberally.
In case we didn’t get it, a couple verses later (10-11) we hear it again: “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.”
Did you get that? Not only does He give us seed, He is going to multiply it and double our blessings, so that we have more, so that we can give again, this time more liberally.
Hospitality is one of the ways we can sow seeds of liberality, generosity, fruitfulness, and abundance, all to the glory of God. It is a labor that God loves to bless, and when we see it all with the eye of faith, the blessings multiply, spill over, and abound. No wonder it is such a pleasure to prepare a feast for our families and friends. It is like throwing seeds into fertile ground and watching them burst out of the ground.
9 thoughts on “Seed Sowing”
My mother is a wonderful hostess. She was and is always timely, she finds joy in the work, she loves to feed people, she loves to give bountifully, she always smiles when she serves, she always prepared dishes that would honor her guests, and she gave liberally and not miserly. Whether it is 2 people or 200 people, my mother truly knows how to love people through hospitality. She was and continues to be a superior example to me as a lovely and gracious hostess. The entire time growing up I don’t ever remember my mother grumbling about or begrudging all the work she would put into hospitality.
Nancy, thank you for addressing this very important issue.
When I was in graduate school I experienced true Christian hospitality and recognized the difference between the biblical virtue/practice and the model I had seen growing up which was entertaining. Heart attitude is everything! It is about loving and sharing and serving and that is SO much harder and more meaningful than just having a nice dinner party!
I can fall into the Martha trap sometimes too. Thanks for the post!
Thanks for this reminder.
I think Peter himself must have had a good example of this hospitality in his mother-in-law. Jesus healed her so that she could serve them! Before I understood what it meant to embrace hospitality, I used to feel sorry for her in that story (wouldn’t she want to rest a little longer)? Now I understand better–the rest of us serve Christ in other people, but she had The Man there Himself!
I think it’s important to remember that being hospitable doesn’t mean you have to cook like Barefoot Contessa, or decorate like Martha Stewart. I often shy away from the idea of hosting a dinner party simply because I am not a very confident cook. Some of our best times of fellowship have happened with Papa Murphy’s pizza on paper plates. I find that my pride is often associated with wanting to host a really nice party. I have learned that my guests are most blessed by our willingness to share and make them feel comfortable, not by how fancy the meal is. Sometimes that actually makes them feel uncomfortable.
What I really struggle with is similar to Martha in a different way. Sometimes I feel frustrated at being excluded from the most interesting conversations because I’m out of earshot in the kitchen. Or even worse, I hear enough to really whet my appetite for the rest of the story or the debate, and never get to hear the end of it. The more interesting the guests are, the worse it is to miss hearing what they are saying. I really wonder if part of Martha’s problem stemmed from her jealousy of Mary, who was getting to listen to such wonderful things from the most interesting guest imaginable.
The only solution I’ve found so far is to do as much of the preparation ahead of time as I can.
Thank you so much for this encouraging post. I am ashamed to admit that I am not big on entertaining. i love making my home cozy and inviting for my family, but am not naturally prone to have folks over… it is an effort. I know I am *supposed* to be hospitable, but it goes against my (sinful) grain. I really appreciate how your post encourages us reluctant hostesses, rather than making us feel guilty. Almost makes me want to invite folks in for this evening;)
And thank you again! These posts are excellent. Thank you!
My husband (the last to go through the little buffet line) whispered, “we’re out of food!” I hadn’t even guessed that possible. I had a whole huge crockpot full of chili, homemade bread, fruit… He almost invited another couple over. I was horrified and thankful he hadn’t invited the other people. After everyone left and we were cleaning up, I realized my real source of embarassment…my wrong perspective. I should be thanking God. I had prepared enough food! Every person’s bowl was filled to the brim and even though there were no seconds, there was laughter and fellowship. And two helpings of dessert for everyone. Who am I to complain when it actually was the exact amount of food we needed?!? Now I had a reason to feel ashamed, imagine being grateful for less people to bless at our table. I trust if the other couple had come God would’ve blessed that and fed them too! If I could do it again, I think I’d say “praise God” to my guests, He filled everyone’s bowl before the pot ran out!