He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:12-14, ESV).
Turning My Page:
Hospitality is often a gift attributed to girls; my daughter has it in spades. She has pulled out her fall decorations and filled our home with the sights and smells of fall. She has added pillows and pumpkins throughout the house, and our table is set and ready to receive any fall guests. She loves having friends over and preparing teas and games for them. Hospitality is a part of her character.
But women are not the only ones gifted by God with hospitality. Reading my friend’s new devotional, A Place at His Table, reminds me of how Daniel, my now sixteen-year-old son, invites people to God’s table. He has had several friends ask him lately about his faith because he spends time with them and is open about his loss of his brother and his struggles with a God who allows suffering.
When my son was an infant, he was a people person. He never wanted to snuggle against my shoulder; he must face outward because that is where the people are.
For two introverted parents, this took some getting used to. He was always getting in strangers’ personal space and didn’t know what to do with himself when there were other kids to play with.
At four years old, it became apparent that I would crush his God-given spirit if I didn’t learn to appreciate his people-loving personality and stop trying to keep him from pestering others. Balance? Yes. Understand the give and take of relationship? Absolutely. He needed guidance to utilize his gift of hospitality, but I recognized that my reaction had much more to do with my fear of what others thought of me as a parent. So I prayed. I prayed that God would open my eyes to the beauty of Daniel’s love for others and ways to shape and strengthen his understanding of the needs of others.
God opened my eyes in a big way to the profound gift He had given to Daniel. I was facilitating a Beth Moore study called The Inheritance, all about the thread of God’s love and good gifts for his people from Genesis to Revelation. Each week, I came early to set up our room in purple and pink tablecloths and placed tiaras and jewelry on each table.
My son had to come with me one day to set up, and as we walked across the parking lot, he spotted a mother on the playground with her child. He called out to her, and I braced myself for what would come out of his mouth. He began waving his arms. “Hey! Hey! She’s having a party, come on in.”
In an instant, my whole attitude changed. No one would miss an opportunity for an invite to God’s table when Daniel was around. I caught a glimpse of the joy of the Heavenly Father, who invites us, even when we are still strangers to His will, into his heavenly banquet.
I’ve never looked at my son’s gifts the same. I find delight in the fact that he notices people and points to God’s love for others. I love the tenderness he develops in sharing his faith with others and meeting his friends where they are in their struggles. He’s grown a bit more shy as a teenager, but he loves hanging with others, and it is such a pleasure to guide and shape his love for people. He makes me want to be bolder and joyous in my invites to God’s grand party.
Turning Your Page
Hospitality is not just a characteristic that a few select people have. All who believe in Jesus Christ and take up our cross are called to open our hearts and homes to others. Even if it doesn’t come naturally, how much more does it say to those who feel rejected when we love them and invite them to the same banquets we ourselves are invited to?
It is essential to note from the Luke 14 context that Jesus was invited to a banquet, and people were fighting over the place of honor. Jesus pointed out that we should take the furthest seat (humble ourselves) to give preference to others and allow God to elevate us to the position he has for us.
God wants all of us to come to His banquet. Some will reject the invitation, and some will accept. How can you invite someone to feast with you at God’s table?
Lord of the banquet, it is your will that all have a seat at your table. Help me, as one who once felt I was not worthy to feast at your table, recognize your prompting, and cultivate hospitality in my home, faith, and hope in You. Amen