The Bible commands hospitality. We know this.
But how can we answer those pesky internal questions?
My husband did it again.
"Nine or ten people are coming for graduation. Can we house them?"
And, boom, just like that, I have a decision to make. Am I willing to open my doors to this dear group of believers? I already had another family that was planning to stay with us.
I love having house guests. I grew up with nine siblings. Our house was always full and never quiet. Also, my mother set a great example to follow. She never turned down guests or an opportunity to watch other people's children. "With ten children in the house, what's four more?" she would say serenely. "We won't even notice that they are there." That last statement was probably 50% idealistic fiction but, regardless, extra people were always popping in and out of our already full house.
And then I married my husband and discovered that this solemn, studious, hermit of a scholar was also The King Of Generous Hospitality.
"Can we have our entire Sunday School department and their children over for a meal and fellowship?" Sure, honey.
"Can we have dinner for our 20 graduate students and their wives at our house?" Sure, honey.
"I know you are pregnant with twins, but I have 5 pastors and their wives who need to be housed. . . " Sure, honey.
"You are busy homeschooling and we are packing up our house and turning it into a dorm before we leave for furlough, but can we house a fifteen-person mission team while you do that?" Sure, honey.
One time, to my children's lavish enjoyment (because they like house guests even more than I do), we ended up with two short-term missionaries living with us for a year. Then we added a single man for three months. Then we added another man who was taking a survey trip for a few weeks. He came and went throughout all Asia, and while he was in a "went" stage, we added a group of four Koreans. They barely left before we added a family of five. (And then the stomach virus hit, but that is another story. . . )
So, once again, I find myself saying, "Sure, honey." Only, even though my response is addressed to my husband, I'm actually acquiescing to God, deliberately choosing not to say no to something I know He is asking me to do. And I'm looking forward to it.
But I can't always claim that.
Hospitality is not totally without a struggle.
Even in this particular instance, I have to counter all of my internal questions. Maybe you, when presented with an opportunity to be hospitable, have to run through these questions as well:
Do I have time? Do I have enough energy? Do I have enough space for everyone? Food? Pillows? Mattresses for all? Do I have enough gumption to poke my head out of my introvertish turtle shell and make conversation?
In this time, one thought guides my decision-making process about all of these things.
"It's not mine."
None of these things are mine.
My time is not mine. My house is not mine. My food is not mine. My family is not mine. My energy is not mine. My pillow/sheet/mattress/couch/floor space/rice/refrigerator is not mine.
None of it is mine; it is all God's.
There are many commands God has given about Christian hospitality:
But in the moment when I have to make this decision, for some reason, this is the truth God gently reminds me:
It's not mine.
Laura Berrey and her husband Tim are missionaries with Gospel Fellowship Association. They share a passion for missions which has taken them to several countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. They currently minister in the Philippines.