A Natural Outworking
“She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Prov. 31:27). If the Lord has given us a family, extending hospitality to our family is our first priority. Once we have established the ministry of hospitality within our family, we can then broaden our hospitality to include extended family members, friends, strangers, the needy, and the poor.
Hospitality towards others then becomes a natural outworking or extension of what we are already practicing within our own homes. Why is this principle important?
There are three reasons why we should consider family first when practicing hospitality:
1. For the sake of our integrity.
Neglecting to extend hospitality to our family can result in violating our God-given priorities—loving our husband and children. Scripture calls us to a have a devoted affection for them. If we do not love our family as God has instructed, we can bring dishonor to God’s Word (Titus 2:3–5). Integrity calls us to be honest and sincere in all aspects of our life. To model hospitality to the world and neglect to practice it in our own home is hypocrisy, and our integrity is compromised.
The manner in which we serve and love our family should reflect the transforming power of the gospel in our own life.
2. For the sake of our children.
Neglecting to include our children in hospitality opportunities might create resentment in them. If our children feel unloved, abandoned, or ignored while we diligently extend hospitality to friends and strangers, we have opened the door for developing bitterness and animosity toward hospitality in the hearts of our children. This is the opposite of what we desire to model for them when we practice hospitality. We must make our children our priority and invest the necessary time and energy to nurture and train them on a daily basis (Ps. 127:3; Prov. 22:6). How tragic for our children to loathe hospitality because they have felt a lack of care while we ministered to others. Dorothy Patterson provides a fitting reminder for mothers:
Busyness is not godliness. God is not impressed with your production capacity as much as He is concerned that the product of your home—your own children—be chiseled and molded and perfected to the best of your ability. You may tire of this mundane task, but the Lord admonishes you not to grow weary and promises to supply the energy and strength as needed in this all-important task (Isa. 40:28–31). God’s strength is for what He plans for you to do—not stamina for everything you might want to do!1
3. For the sake of the gospel.
Neglecting to extend hospitality to our family can discredit our witness. The testimony of a wife and mom who loves and serves her family is a powerful witness to a watching world; it is also something that separates a believing woman from the world. The manner in which we serve and love our family should reflect the transforming power of the gospel in our own life (2 Cor. 5:17–21). In other words, our love, dedication, and other biblical character attributes manifested toward our family are a testimony to the world of God’s powerful work in our lives. In her book Feminine Appeal, Carolyn Mahaney explains the power of this witness:
Can you conceive of anything that sets forth the beauty of the gospel jewel more brilliantly than the godly behavior of those who have received it? Consider the loveliness of a woman who passionately adores her husband, who tenderly cherishes her children, who creates a warm and peaceful home, who exemplifies purity, self-control, and kindness in her character and who gladly submits to her husband’s leadership—for all the days God grants her life. I dare say there are few things that display the gospel jewel with greater elegance.2
We must be diligent in protecting the priority of our family while at the same time endeavoring to be faithful to practice hospitality (Rom. 12:13).
1. Dorothy Kelley Patterson, A Handbook for Ministers’ Wives (Nashville, TN: Broadman
& Holman, 2002), 104.
2. Carolyn Mahaney, Feminine Appeal (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 21.
This article is adapted from Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock.
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