This practical resource defines biblical hospitality and illustrates how all believers can practice hospitality from a biblical perspective.
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About the Author
Pat Ennis (EdD, Northern Arizona University) is the distinguished professor and director of homemaking programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She previously served as the establishing chair of the Home Economics/Family and Consumer Science Department at the Master's College. She has authored or coauthored several books, resides in Burleson, Texas, and blogs at theEverydayHomemaker.com.
PAT ENNIS and LISA TATLOCK have also coauthored Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God and its companion volume, Designing a Lifestyle That Pleases God. Dr. Ennis chairs the Home Economics department at The Master's College, and Dr. Tatlock has taught home economics at The Master's College since 1988. Both authors regularly speak to women's groups and write articles on various topics.
Dorothy Kelley Patterson (DTheol, University of South Africa) is professor of theology in women’s studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where her husband, Paige Patterson, is the president. She is the author of many books, an active homemaker, a frequent speaker and Bible teacher at women’s conferences, and a mother and grandmother.
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Hospitality and Character
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.
— ROMANS 5:3–4
Character — what is it? "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son"(Rom. 8:29). The desire to encourage twenty-first-century society to embrace some form of ethical values is evident in the establishment of numerous secular organizations, including the Josephson Institute, at which the sole purpose is to remind the culture that "character does count." Their literature suggests that a person of character:
* is a good person, someone to look up to and admire;
* knows the difference between right and wrong and always tries to do what is right;
* sets a good example for everyone;
* makes the world a better place;
* lives according to the "Six Pillars of Character": trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.
As a member of twenty-first-century society, I can certainly affirm their definition of a person of character; however, as I ponder the definition, I find myself searching for a standard by which to measure my application of it. Because I am a Christian first and a member of society second, I am blessed to have the Word of God as a standard that challenges me to cultivate a lifestyle that conforms me to the only Person who exhibited character in its purest form — Jesus Christ. Daily it is my prayer that I can say to those whose lives I touch, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ"(1 Cor. 11:1). As well, as I internalize my heavenly Father's Word, I am challenged to embrace his standard of femininity — a quality that, from a biblical perspective, has little to do with appearance and everything to do with character.
Since we are blending hospitality and character, let'stake a survey of the Scriptures and create a word collage of what a person of character who desires to practice hospitality might look like. Our collage could be labeled:
A Person of Christian Character Who Practices Hospitality Is ... H — Humble
"Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble'"(1 Pet. 5:5). Humility is the most foundational Christian virtue and is the quality of character commanded in the first beatitude, according to Matthew 5:3. Being poor in spirit (humble) is to be the opposite of self-sufficient. It speaks of the deep humility of recognizing our utter spiritual bankruptcy apart from God. It describes those who are acutely conscious of their lostness and hopelessness apart from divine grace. Humility, according to Micah 6:8, is a necessary prerequisite if we are going to be of service to our heavenly Father.
The evidence of my application of this quality is demonstrated when I choose to step out of my comfort zone and invite into my home individuals with whom I may not be totally at ease, or those who may have unrealistic expectations about the event because, after all, I am a professional home economist. I am comforted, however, when I look into my "spiritual closet" and find the perfect garment for this occasion, the garment of humility. When I don this garment I am reminded that I am not too good to serve — and this is pleasing to my heavenly Father (1 Pet. 5:5).
Though I entertain throughout the year, probably the most significant event that occurs at our home the last Friday of each spring semester is the Home Economics Department's senior dessert. Quite frankly, it is not a convenient time to entertain — the end-of-the-year activities, campus responsibilities, and paper grading impact my already busy schedule. Satan could easily discourage me by suggesting, as I prepare the dessert, clean the house, set up tables and chairs so that everyone can be comfortably seated, and put the devotion in order, that perhaps it is unnecessary for me to add this event to my already busy schedule. However, instead of allowing Satan'slie to take root in my heart, I choose to focus on the act of selfless service that was taught by my Lord as he washed his disciples'feet (John 13:1–17). The shift in my attitude brings to remembrance that this is one of the last opportunities I have to model to my "younger women"(Titus 2:4–5) the character qualities I sought to integrate into their lives during their academic sojourn.
With my Lord'smodel preeminent, the evening becomes one of tenderness and affirmation as we celebrate this major milestone. Later, as our home is put back into order from the evening'sevent, I am reminded that memories take time and energy to create — and I may have taught my "younger women" more lessons that one evening than during the entirety of their college education. As you consider performing acts of hospitality, is humility your foundational Christian virtue?
O — Obedient
"Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice"(1 Sam. 15:22). The words of John 14:15, 21–24 clearly identify that the primary evidence that individuals are Christians is their choice to obey their Father'scommands. Writing on these passages, John MacArthur states: "Love for Christ is inseparable from obedience" and "Jesus emphasized the need for the habitual practice of obedience to His commands as evidence of the believer'slove for Him and the Father." Though we live in a world that promotes "have things your own way," I learned that to please my heavenly Father I need to respond to all of his instructions with an obedient spirit and not just pick those that appeal to me — and that includes my response to what his Word teaches about hospitality. Let'sexamine his instructions.
Romans 12:13 says I am to practice hospitality — literally I am to "show hospitality"(Heb.13:2) — not simply offer hospitality to my friends. The subtitle for the section where this verse is found in my study Bible is "Behave like a Christian," which appears in a list of traits that characterize the Spirit-filled life. The application is clear: if I want to demonstrate obedience to my heavenly Father, I will choose to practice hospitality.
First Peter 4:9 builds on the instruction to practice hospitality and reminds me that my attitude is of utmost importance — I am to practice hospitality without complaining! This verse challenges me to conduct a heart search to discern what my attitude is and whether I am approaching this opportunity to minister enthusiastically (Col. 3:23).
I am reminded in Hebrews 13:2 that my willingness to extend hospitality may have far-reaching implications. As we study the lives of Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 18:1–3), Lot (Gen. 19:1–2), Gideon (Judg. 6:11–24), and Manoah (Judg. 13:6–20), we learn that all entertained strangers who were actually special messengers from God. While my motive should never be to give so that I will receive, Luke 6:38 clearly states that the measuring cup that I use to dispense my gifts and talents will be the same one used to provide my needs. As I tabulated Cherie Land'ssurvey for Practicing Hospitality, her response to the question, "How have you used your home as a center for evangelism?" provided a practical application to this truth:
When we moved into our new house I asked the Lord to show me what he wanted me to do in this neighborhood. Well, one day the neighbor lady came and asked what I did to get my children to turn out the way they did, and I said it is only by the grace of God that my children are the way they are. She wanted help with her four-year-old. A few days later she called and said she needed to talk; she came over and was in tears, so I just shared with her and prayed for her right on the spot. I also had your first book (Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God) and had only read the first chapter and half of the second, but I gave it to her to read and look up the Scripture verses. It is very amazing the difference in her and the man that she is living with. All this took place on a day that I had scheduled down to the last minute and needed to get things done. Even though I got behind because of the neighbor I was still able to get everything done. Since this has happened I purchased another copy of your book.
Cherie's neighbor may enter heaven because of Cherie' swillingness to take the time to share her faith at an inconvenient time.
Third John 7–8 challenges me to extend hospitality to those involved in ministry for our Lord. It is exciting to know that as I share my home and resources with our Lord'sservants, I become an active part of their ministry.
One of the requirements for church leadership, according to 1 Timothy 3:1–2 and Titus 1:7–8, is a willingness to allow others to observe them in their homes — the arena where their character is most graphically revealed. My friend Donna Morley describes the frequent twenty-first-century approach to this requirement:
I remember once meeting a Christian woman who said point blank, "I would love to get to know you by talking on the telephone from time to time, but don't expect our families to get together. No offense — it's just that we don't entertain, and we like to keep to ourselves." After this woman's remark, I started to think how much this is becoming the norm in the Christian community. Why? Because we are living in a society that craves privacy and lack of involvement."
As you consider this statement, what is your response? Are you willing to follow this command and allow our Lord to work his mysterious ways through the unique environment that hospitality provides or will you choose to "keep to yourself"? If you are involved in church leadership it is necessary to keep in focus that these verses are requirements, not suggestions!
Our graying population gives the hospitality requirement found in 1 Timothy 5:9–10 particular significance, since these verses suggest that only those widows who have extended hospitality, among other qualifications, can expect to be materially nurtured by the church. As you consider this requirement, may I suggest several questions:
1. Does your church have a plan for materially nurturing true widows?
2. Do you know who the true widows are?
3. Are you following the biblical instruction to assist in the material nurturing of widows?
4. Does your life exemplify the qualities outlined in 1 Timothy 5:9–10 so that you would qualify for placement on the "true widows" list?
S — Sincere
"For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you"(2 Cor. 1:12). Have you ever been invited to an event but felt that you were not really wanted? Perhaps the hostess was very gracious in extending the invitation, but either by her body language, tone of voice, or the conditions under which the invitation was received, you questioned its genuineness. When we extend hospitality, if we desire to please our heavenly Father, we need to endeavor to possess a spirit of sincerity. Philippians 1:10 provides us with the litmus, or perhaps we should say with the "pottery test" of sincerity. John MacArthur illuminates our understanding of this character quality as he writes:
"Sincere" means "genuine" and may have originally meant "tested by sunlight." In the ancient world, dishonest pottery dealers filled cracks in their inferior products with wax before glazing and painting them, making worthless pots difficult to distinguish from expensive ones. The only way to avoid being defrauded was to hold the pot to the sun, making the wax-filled cracks obvious. Dealers marked their fine pottery that could withstand "sun testing" as sine cera — "without wax." Granted, there are times when we may need to deal with our attitude before issuing the invitation, but we need to "stay on our knees" until it can be communicated sine cera!
P — Prayerful
"Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). Scores of books instruct the believer about prayer, from purpose to posture. As well, multiple Scriptures encourage us to cultivate an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father through prayer (my Exhaustive Strong's Concordance lists a minimum of 464 verses under the topics of "pray" and "prayers"). As we consider prayer and its role in hospitality, let' stake a moment to remind ourselves why we should pray.
* Prayer is commanded (Eph. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:17).
* It is a sin not to pray (1 Sam. 12:23).
* Prayer gives glory to God (Dan. 9:16–19; John 14:13–14).
* Prayer aligns us with God's purposes (Matt. 6:9–10).
* Prayer results in answers (James 5:16; 1 John 5:15).
Having identified why we should pray, let's move the theological reasons into practical application. We'll title our prayer rationale:
I PRAY BEFORE I EXTEND HOSPITALITY BECAUSE I —
* should have a sincere heart when I extend the invitation (Phil. 1:10);
* know that for the event to bring glory to my heavenly Father, I must have his strength (Phil. 4:13);
* want to have a heart that submits to my heavenly Father's instructions (Rom. 12:13b);
* need to approach any opportunity to minister with a "hearty attitude" (Col. 3:23);
* have a desire to wear "the garment of humility" to the occasion (1 Pet. 5:5);
* desire to have a gracious spirit in the midst of unforeseeable circumstances (Prov. 11:16);
* wish to glean from the wisdom of my guests (Prov.1:5);
* seek genuinely to meet the needs of my guests (1 John 3:17); long for my extension of hospitality to have far-reaching implications (Heb.13:2);
* need to be excited about allowing others to catch a glimpse of my character where it is most graphically displayed — in my home — especially if I am in a position of leadership (1 Tim. 3:1–2; Titus 1:7–8);
* desire to stimulate conversations that are edifying (Rom. 15:1–2) and encouraging (1 Thess. 5:11) to my guests.
As we conclude this portion of our word collage I would like to tell you about how my dear friend and colleague, Glenda Hotton, chose to incorporate these qualities as she opened her home for a luncheon one warm summer day. Her kind invitation included a number of ladies of differing ages and interests, and when it was extended to me it was evident she wanted me to come. Her home and her heart were prepared for us; her gracious spirit allowed us to have a glimpse into her character. Though the luncheon was tasty, the recollection that is most vivid in my mind is the intentional conversation that led the group of eight ladies toward encouraging and edifying one another. The time and energy she expended in preparation for our time together yielded a precious memory for all of us.
I — Interested in Integrity
"May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you"(Ps. 25:21). Integrity is defined as "uncompromising adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty"; it is derived from the word integer, meaning "a complete entity; undivided, or whole." As a believer, I cognitively know that Scripture calls me to a life of integrity; regrettably, society, and now often the Christian community, encourages me to embrace compromise over integrity. Scripture calls me to refuse to accept society's standards and to live apart from the world (Isa. 52:11; 2 Cor.6:17; 1 Pet. 2:9). If I am going to be known as a true woman of integrity, I will choose to adhere to my heavenly Father's standards, regardless of what the mainstream of society is doing. Put into practical terms, I will choose to do what is right when given a choice between right and wrong — even when it is unpopular.
As I choose to display integrity when I extend hospitality I will seek to:
* follow the example of the Israelites' principle of separation from the world so that regardless of when guests enter my home, they observe a lifestyle that is consistent with my stated convictions (Deut. 14:2, 1 Pet. 2:9);
* use Job as a role model of integrity, regardless of the circumstances (Job 2:3, 31:6);
* study the Word of God and revere it as the ultimate authority in my life (Ps. 119: 9–11);
* know Christ intimately so that his character is evident to all who enter my home (Eph. 3:14–19);
* cultivate a blameless lifestyle (Philippians 1:10 challenges me to live a life of true integrity that does not cause others to sin);
* desire to lead a godly life (Titus 2:11–12) that bears fruit.
The classic booklet My Heart, Christ's Home challenges believers to let Christ settle down and be at home in their hearts as Lord of all. If I am going to exemplify integrity when I extend hospitality, I will do as this tiny booklet suggests and sign over the title deed of my spiritual life for all time and eternity. I then will be able to say with the psalmist, "But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity" as I practice biblical hospitality (Ps. 26:11).(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Practicing Hospitality"
Copyright © 2007 Patricia A. Ennis and Lisa Tatlock.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Hospitality and Character,
Chapter 2 Hospitality and Strangers,
Chapter 3 Hospitality and Family,
Chapter 4 Hospitality and Management,
Chapter 5 Hospitality and Your Home,
Chapter 6 Hospitality and Others,
Chapter 7 Hospitality and Culture,
Chapter 8 Hospitality and Ministry,
List of Contributors,
What People are Saying About This
"Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock have served a rich fare of biblical teaching and practical application. With comprehensive scope and depth, this book provides tremendous motivation for obeying the biblical commands to practice hospitality-motivation rooted in the character and ways of God himself. Each chapter concludes with insightful questions and Bible studies, as well as practical tips and recipes. Practicing Hospitality will help readers grow in understanding and carrying out the biblical mandate of Christian hospitality in ways that honor the Lord."
Bruce and Jodi Ware, Professor of Christian Theology; and his wife, Instructor in the Seminary Wives Institute, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
"In a world where it's easy to focus on my needs and my wants, Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock draw the reader away from self and toward others. Practicing Hospitality inspires you to model biblical love and equips you with practical, easy-to-apply advice."
Glynnis Whitwer,author,Work@home: A Practical Guide for Women Who Want to Work at Home;Executive Director of Communications, Proverbs 31 Ministries
"I realized quickly while in the Home Economics program that Dr. Ennis and Dr. Tatlock practice the kind of hospitality they teach. In Practicing Hospitality the authors offer us a rich biblical and practical volume, and its principles will prove to be a blessing to Christian women who seek to implement them."
Robin Contreras, pastor's wife, missionary, homemaker
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Written from a biblical perspective by two professors of home economics, Practicing Hospitality is a helpful book that inspires Christian women to serve others through their homes without feeling they need to be a Martha Stewart to do so. Many examples of hospitality from scripture are given as well as practical tips for entertaining and being ready to have guests on a moment's notice. I appreciated that the authors don't pretend that being hospitable is easy or something that comes naturally to everyone. For some of us it takes a lot of discipline and work to keep our homes presentable and not all of us are naturally inclined to socializing and entertaining, but this book is full of ideas on how to make it more enjoyable when the opportunity presents itself. I also appreciated that the authors suggest that hospitality is easier when the motivation to serve comes from scripture and doing it to glorify Christ rather than out of obligation or a need to impress others. Chapter topics include hospitality and how it relates to personal character, strangers, family, home management, culture, military, etc., and some recipes are also included. I liked the practical tips given in the chapter on home management that helped me accept that my home can be clean and free from clutter without needing to be a showplace. The tone of the book releases the reader from feeling she needs to have a perfect home, be a gourmet cook, or have the perfect dinner party plan before she can open her home to serve others. The authors give examples of how guests remember feeling welcome at someone's home more than what was served or how her home was decorated and that's a good lesson to take from the book. Although married women who are homemakers will likely be most drawn to this book, the tips and biblical foundation of hospitality apply to everyone whether male or female, married or single, parents or those without children. I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher but the opinion of it is my own and was not solicited, nor was a positive review required.
This book has taught me so much! My mother worked a lot growing up and didn't really get to teach me all the "homemaker" skills that I would love to have. So, I have been looking to books to learn more about my role as a wife, keeper of the home, and future mother. This book has taught me so much about hospitality and the ministry that a woman can have from her home. This book is going to be one that I refer people to for a long time! I am a social butterfly by nature, but I have never fully considered the impact that hospitality could have on eternity! Since Michael and I have been married we have been having people over for dinners, game nights, and other special events. But, we never fully took advantage of the time to further God's kingdom! After reading this book I have such a different perspective on hospitality. The book is full of practical tips to help you focus more on God than on you, your home, your food, etc... Hospitality is all about showing God's love in a practical way. This book helped me to see this in such a powerful way! I will never look at a dinner with guests or game night the same way again! I am always going to try to lay our events at the feet of Jesus, shower them with prayer, and point to Him before, during, and after! This book will challenge you to use your home as a center for evangelism at every opportunity you can! Do not miss your change to read this book!!! For more book reviews, visit my blog http://puttinggodfirstplace.blogspot.com/ -Ashley Wells