Take Them A Meal

by Marilyn Miller

The theme for Women's Ministry this year is "Hospitality." This month we are focusing on the act of taking a meal to someone in need as an example of love, service and, of course, hospitality.

Throughout the years, there have been many times that my family has been blessed by people who provided meals for us.  We are still thankful to every person who cared for us in this way. It was always a blessing. Sometimes the meals were unexpected but ended up being delivered at the perfect time to meet our needs for that day. Other times, the nutrition we received from the meal felt like a balm to our tired souls as we fought the fight and endured the trial.

Hospitality was something we recently looked at in the Monday night study of 1st Peter which recently wrapped up.  It was timely to consider the idea of hospitality especially as Thanksgiving draws near.  In 1 Peter 4:9, Peter says,

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

What's with the "without grumbling" part. Why did he add that?

Jen Wilkin, the author of the study, points out that if we are honest, hospitality can be both expensive and inconvenient.  It takes time and effort to prepare extra food  and that impacts both our wallet and our time. She believes, however, that we may be confusing hospitality with entertaining.

Here is an excerpt from a blog post she wrote on this subject:

Entertaining involves setting the perfect tablescape after an exhaustive search on Pinterest. It chooses a menu that will impress and then frets its way through each stage of preparation. It requires every throw pillow to be in place, every cobweb to be eradicated, every child to be neat and orderly. It plans extra time to don the perfect outfit before the first guest touches the doorbell on the seasonally decorated doorstep. And should any element of the plan fall short, entertaining perceives the entire evening to have been tainted. Entertaining focuses attention on self. 

Hospitality involves setting a table that makes everyone feel comfortable. It chooses a menu that allows face time with guests instead of being chained to the cooktop. It picks up the house to make things pleasant but doesn’t feel the need to conceal evidences of everyday life. It sometimes sits down to dinner with flour in its hair. It allows the gathering to be shaped by the quality of the conversation rather than the cuisine. Hospitality shows interest in the thoughts, feelings, pursuits and preferences of its guests. It is good at asking questions and listening intently to answers. Hospitality focuses attention on others.

  • Entertaining is always thinking about the next course. Hospitality burns the rolls because it was listening to a story.
  • Entertaining obsesses over what went wrong. Hospitality savors what was shared.
  • Entertaining, exhausted, says, “It was nothing, really!” Hospitality thinks it was nothing. Really.
  • Entertaining seeks to impress. Hospitality seeks to bless.

But the two practices can look so similar. Two people can set the same beautiful tablescape and serve the same gourmet meal—one with a motive to impress, the other with a motive to bless. How can we know the difference? Only the second of the two would invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind to pull up a chair and sip from the stemware. Our motives are revealed not just in how we set our tables but in who we invite to join us at the feast. Entertaining invites those whom it will enjoy. Hospitality takes all comers.

She's right. 

Hospitality might cause us to grumble.  After all, it does takes a little bit of work and effort to serve others.

But how can we grumble when we remember how blessed we are? WE are the spiritually poor, crippled, lame, and blind beggars who are invited to a feast beyond belief.

Could it be that Peter remembered the event recorded in John 13 when he wrote to his readers about showing hospitality? Jesus was the perfect example of how to serve others.

John 13:4 tells us that Jesus put aside his robe and wrapped a towel around his waist. He poured water into a basin and began washing the disciples' feet. Peter was an eyewitness to this event. He saw how Jesus placed himself lower than the disciples to serve them by washing their feet.

Not only did Jesus wash the disciples' feet, He humbled Himself and laid down His life for all of us so we could be served a feast of forgiveness.

As Thanksgiving draws near, I am once again humbled and so very grateful to the body of believers who put in the extra work and effort to bless my family in our time of need. It is my prayer that, in turn, I would have eyes to see those in need and emulate Jesus to show them the encouragement that has been shown to me.

Who do you know who needs someone to see them and provide for their need? May Jesus be our example of how to humble ourselves for the needs of others.

Posted in: General, Women's Ministries

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