Put Out the Welcome Mat

by Sally Matheny
Put Out the Welcome Mat
One arm of our sofa is flat and dingy-looking because it’s our kids’ favorite spot to dangle. While the laminate hardwood floors don’t show spots like the former carpet did, we have yet to see it shine as it did in the store display. In addition, a mysterious stain still clings to the ceiling.

     I think about these things when there is a possibility of guests. I would love to put out the welcome mat; it’s just that it’s clabbered with dog hair.

     Aside from the home appearance factor, showing hospitality takes time and effort. Sometimes, we determine the work is worthy because it’s for the family and friends we love. But what about strangers?  In this day and age, is it necessary to welcome strangers into our home? 

     According to God’s Holy Word, the answer is yes. 

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” 
1 Peter 4:7-11 (NIV)

     To “love one another deeply” is a sacrificial love. It will cost us something. And we are to host with grace, not grumbles.

     We need not install a revolving door in our homes or post a blinking neon sign out front stating our home is open 24/7. The Bible says to be alert and sober-minded so that we can pray.

     Seeking God’s will and trusting Him to provide must be our first priority. What will God provide?

“Whatever gift you have received to serve others”
     We recently met an innkeeper who uses his forte to attend to others. Whitestone Inn is a AAA, four-diamond resort. Innkeeper, Paul Cowell and his wife enjoy providing a luxurious stay for their customers—especially those who are full-time pastors and missionaries, who receive fifty-percent off the normal rate. They also run promotions for cancer patients and those serving in the military. Cowell demonstrates his love for Christ in other ways. He asks all his guests to join him as he prays over each evening meal. Wholesome books line the shelves of the inn’s library. Marriage enrichment guides and a special hiking trail are provided for couples who wish to participate.
     The Cowells are using the gifts they have received to serve others.  

Whitestone Inn in Kingston, Tennessee

“God’s grace in various forms”
     Janet Albury’s husband and teenage daughter died in an airplane crash. In the process of grieving, she met a missionary family whose daughter also died in the same accident. God’s grace sustained these families and it gave Janet a vision for service. She built a house for missionaries and pastors, to get away with their families, for rest and rejuvenation.
     In addition to staying in this beautiful place (C. Grace at Work), free of charge, the guests are also welcomed on the first night’s stay with a delicious, home cooked meal. 
     Janet Albury exemplifies God’s grace.

“Strength for the task”
     Physical limitations and fear are some of the greatest obstacles to opening our homes. This is where prayer and faith play out.
     A family in South Africa took in a man recently paroled from prison. Despite his years of incarceration on a murder charge, this family has made their home a welcoming haven for him. This demonstration of God’s love made a huge impact on him and broke ground for a new life.
     God gave this family courage and strength for the task.

“In all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ”
     You may not be an innkeeper or have the ability to build a special place of retreat. God may not be calling you to host former inmates in your home. However, be careful of disregarding your call to hospitality.

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” 
Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)

     I’d rather the angels not see the stains in my home, but somehow I don’t think they’d even notice. Besides, hospitality is not really about the location as much as it is the act of kindness.
     There are as many different ways to show hospitality as there are dust bunnies in my house.

There are many ways to show hospitality.
     Want some ideas? Check out a blog post by Aleisha Caldwell that features 40+ ideas for practicing hospitality at Feathers In Our Nest.
     Also, your family may want to consider hosting Christian travelers for one night. For more information go to http://acandleinthewindow.com/.

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13 (NIV)

     Hospitality presents us with opportunities to show God’s love. Give your best. Be intentional. Be creative. Look past the stains in your home, the stains of your past sins, and the stains in other people’s lives. Pray, and be ready to put out the welcome mat—pet hair and all.

     Share with us! Tell a time when someone's hospitality made a difference in your life.