Practicing Hospitality

by Patrick and Helen Tsai

We love having people come over to our place. Here’s how God has brought us to our convictions regarding hospitality and how practicing hospitality looks for our family. We pray you will be encouraged. 

Helen’s desire for practicing hospitality in an intentional way started soon after she was saved. She noticed that her friends would comment on how “hospitable” she was. A spiritual gift test also confirmed that one of her gifts was indeed hospitality. As she grew in her faith and learned that she should be using her spiritual gifts for God’s glory, she began to plan more occasions to have people over in her home. She enjoyed hosting even more knowing it was from God and for God. She remembers thinking fondly of how the early church would break bread daily in their homes (Acts 2:46).

One example of hospitality that she’ll never forget was the time she was in Arizona, alone in a new place. One evening, at the end of her first visit to a church small group, as she was leaving the host’s home she was told, “we eat dinner every night at 6:30pm…so just come over whenever…” She was blown away by this generous and kind invitation from someone she had just met. Other examples she has been encouraged by were friends who hosted church-wide events regularly, friends who opened their home every Sunday afternoon with homemade popcorn, and friends who hosted travelers better than a 5-star hotel.  

Patrick has always enjoyed entertaining people as well, but it was after God saved him that he developed a desire to host as a means of edifying other believers and evangelizing the lost. During college he and his roommates enjoyed hosting Bible studies, prayer nights, and meals. He’s also benefited from many different church families who have opened their homes for meals, prayer, discipleship, and Bible studies. These experiences along with encouragement from Helen have helped him grow in practicing hospitality.

We have been recipients of much hospitality, first from God who welcomed us as sinners to Himself, and then from His people. Many godly examples have helped us grow in our convictions, individually and as a family. We are so thankful we can host together as a family now. Even though it has looked different in each season of life, whether we were single, married, or with baby; or in a small home or big home; our desire has been the same: to be good stewards of the home and resources God has given us (Rom 11:36, Ps 24:1). We aim to be generous toward others and use what we have to bless others (1Tim 6:17-19). Whether we are considering a new home or planning our current home’s layout, we contemplate how it will accommodate large gatherings, visitors, or overnight guests.  

With this mindset and God’s blessing, we’ve had many opportunities to open our home, whether it was our 1-bedroom apartment or 4-bedroom house. One of the ways we’ve been able to use our home is hosting GBF events. It’s been a blessing, joy, and privilege to be a part of the various ministries in this way. To get involved initially, we reached out and sought opportunities. Then, as God provided, we discussed them together before committing.

Practicing hospitality does have its challenges because we are sinful. In our selfishness we often think wrongly. We complain that hosting is tiring, think it’s inconvenient, get upset that the baby’s nap is being interrupted, or wish that we could keep all our resources for ourselves. We can also be discontent and wish our home were bigger, smaller, or cleaner. We may be tempted into thinking that we are too busy with work or our own family’s activities.  

Thank the Lord that He gives us grace to overcome all these challenges! We actively fight off wrong thoughts and replace them with true ones through His Word. We often need to encourage one another to think rightly through God’s Word. His Word reminds us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31), to be content with what we have (Phil 4:12), to consider others first (Phil 2:3), to remember that it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), to serve by His strength and for His glory (1 Pet 4:11), to lay up treasures in heaven and not on earth (Matt 6:19-21), to not neglect meeting together (Heb 10:25), to love our brothers with sincerity (Rom 12:9-10), to serve one another with zeal (Rom 12:11), to contribute to the needs of other believers (Rom 12:13), and to show hospitality (Rom 12:13).

We also need to pray for help to serve with a glad and generous heart. God is faithful and gives us strength, brings help from others, and gives us humility to be okay with serving simple meals and using paper plates and plastic utensils. Our place isn’t always clean, and with a baby, we sometimes need to get creative with cooking and ask our guests to be gracious with us.

God has not only helped us through these challenges but He’s also blessed us immensely through each hosting opportunity. There is so much joy in seeing people meet new people, deepen relationships, serve and encourage each other, evangelize non-believers, and reconnect. In terms of ministry, opening our home is a way we can serve and love others.

Practically, hosting enables us to have fellowship with others and it sometimes challenges Helen’s cooking skills! Our marriage has been blessed because when we host we practice our communication and it is also something fun that we can work on together. Our home is warmer, kept cleaner, and utilized fuller when we have people over. It’s wonderful to see so much ministry happening in our home!

All Christians should practice hospitality (Rom 12:13, 1 Pet 4:9, Heb 13:2). You can practice hospitality regardless of the size or cleanliness of your home. Whether you host one person or 100, you are practicing hospitality. We should all ask God for opportunities to serve and minister to others with the homes and material things that we’ve been graciously given by the Creator and Giver of all things.

Opening our homes helps us edify the church body and evangelize the lost. It sets us apart from our society that glorifies individualism and shuns strangers. May Christians be lights in this dark world through opening our hearts and homes to people for God’s glory.

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