by Mary Clare Freel
My house isn’t clean enough! The flylady calls this CHAOS (“Can’t have anyone over syndrome”). I have 5 sons who shed debris as they enter a room, so I completely understand this problem. Your house does not have to be spotless. We need not pretend that no one lives here. However, we do want to reflect the glory of God in our homes. God is a God of order, and our homes should reflect the same.
Try to develop a cleaning routine that will keep things somewhat orderly so you are not tempted to hide when unexpected company drops by. You can also enlist family members to help clean. Regular chores for children foster responsibility. A quick blitz of the house is another option. Home improvement projects often happen on Saturdays, so my husband often rallied the kids for a quick clean while I prepared dinner. Whatever wasn’t cleaned was closed off.
My house isn’t big enough! Keep it manageable. Don’t invite the whole church at one time. Do things in small doses. If you don’t have enough table room, use trays for extras. I have used a blanket on the floor for kids to have a picnic. A piano bench makes a great child’s table. Be creative. Spill over into other rooms or outdoors, if whether permits. You can even be hospitable in a dorm room.
My house is not nice enough! I’ll invite people over after we remodel or get nicer furniture. When we were having a Bible study years ago after we first bought our house, it was in a constant state of remodeling. I understand feeling like that, but we were blessed by having the study. At one point we had no kitchen counters, but someone brought a board to put the food out. People are not coming to see your house, they are coming to fellowship around the things of Christ. Let Christ be the center and not your house. If you wait until you have your dream house, you may never be hospitable. Do what you can with what you have. Be creative.
- Can’t afford a new couch? Get a slipcover or fresh pillows.
- Ugly carpet? Cover it with an inexpensive rug to cover it or tone it down.
- A tablecloth over a beat-up table or a coat of paint can update the look. Fresh flowers and candles can add atmosphere. An attractive table setting goes a long way to minimize other flaws in the house.
I am not outgoing enough. Pray that God would help you to overcome your shyness, because it is a fear of man, so that you may minister to others. Invite a combination of people that can carry the conversation.
I am too busy! There may be times in our lives that hospitality takes a back seat for one reason or another. Certain providential hindrances may cause us to take a reprieve from normal duties of hospitality. These may include illnesses within your family, the birth of a baby, transitions of a move, etc. During such times, it is important to maintain contact with others in the church to avoid falling into a reclusive mindset. As soon as circumstances change, we need to ease back into the practice of hospitality. If we are too busy to be hospitable, then maybe we are busier than God intends us to be. Busyness is not the mark of success our society would lead us to believe. Perhaps we should reevaluate our schedules and see what could be eliminated or switched around.
As you can see, Biblical hospitality expresses itself in a variety of ways — from tea for two, dinner for 12, weekend housing, to even adoption. Through all these expressions runs the common thread of the love of Christ. Our homes should be a fountain of refreshment to those who live there and to all others who enter. Let that be our aim.