Hospitality-A Choice or a Command?: Dr. Tara Dew
How many times have we heard it said:
“If only my house were bigger, I could invite people over.”
“I’m really not a good cook, so who would want to come for dinner?”
“My house isn’t clean enough to have others over.”
“My life is so busy that it is difficult to find time for my family, let alone others.”
Sadly, these statements are common among believers today. For many Christians, hospitality is seen as a nice gesture to offer, but only if you have the ability, time, space, or finances to host.
However, when one glances into Scripture, hospitality is not a choice for believers. It’s not a choice to offer a friendly treatment or welcome if you feel like it. No, hospitality is a command that should characterize the life of a follower of Jesus.
Hospitality is mentioned many times in Scripture, but let’s just consider one command that Paul gives us in Romans 12:13. I love how these different translations give us a picture of this hospitality command for believers.
The ESV says, “Seek to show hospitality.”
The CSB goes a bit further and commands, “Pursue hospitality.”
But I love the NLT that says, “Always be eager to practice hospitality.”
Contrary to popular opinion, hospitality is not just something that you do if your house is big enough. Or if you have everything tidy and clean. Or if you have the time in your schedule. Hospitality is something that marks the genuine faith of a Christ-follower. If you are a Christian, then your life should be characterized by an eagerness to practice and show hospitality.
Another way that Romans 12:13 can be translated is: “Take every opportunity to open your life and home to others.” I think that is a beautiful description of hospitality: the opening up of your home and your life to others. Not just when it is convenient. Not just when it is easy. Not just when you feel like it. Hospitality is a command for all believers to take every opportunity to open our home and lives to others.
At different seasons of life, your hospitality may look different. The Message translation of Romans 12:13 even commands, “Be inventive in hospitality.” If you are a single woman, hospitality might be having a ladies night out in your apartment with coffee and desserts. If you are newly married, hospitality could include inviting another young couple over for a game night and snacks. If you are a young mom, hospitality might be bringing some extra snacks to the park and offering new friends the opportunity to picnic with you. If you are a mom of elementary school kids, hospitality might be inviting your child’s teacher to your home for dinner one evening. If you are a retired woman and an empty-nester, hospitality might be going to a young mom’s home and helping her with laundry as you comfort and encourage. Hospitality takes on different forms, but in all circumstances, it is looking beyond yourself, opening your home and life to others, and showing the tangible love of Jesus to those around you.
If you’d like to read some other good resources on hospitality, I encourage you to check out these books:
Hospitality Command by Alexander Strauch
The Life-Giving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson
A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman
Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper
Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home by Gloria Furman
The Turquoise Table by Kristen Schell
Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman
Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson
As we start 2019, I want to encourage you: Let’s be women who stop making excuses. Instead, let’s be women who are eager to practice hospitality. Let’s show the tangible love of Christ to those around us, by obeying the command to be hospitable Christ-followers. Let’s open our homes and lives to those around us.
With much love to all of you in Christ Jesus!
Tara Dew is a 2018 graduate of Southeastern Seminary where she earned her Doctorate in Education. She is the wife of Dr. Jamie Dew, Dean of the College at Southeastern and Professor of Philosophy and History of Ideas. She spends her days homeschooling the “Dew Crew,” her two sets of twins: Natalie and Nathan (11 years old) and Samuel and Samantha (8 years old). In her free time, Tara loves teaching through the Word of God, encouraging women and pastors’ wives, meeting with friends for coffee, going out to eat and traveling with her family.