Previously, one of the best ways to stay encouraged is to start serving. Serving allows us to stop thinking about our own problems and challenges — and to stop being selfish and self-absorbed (the natural tendency) — and to focus instead on the needs and wellbeing of others. Hence, it’s a great antidote to depression. It also helps us to become the selfless individuals God designed us to be, fulfilling the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39)
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant … just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28 NIV) Again, the Lord Jesus is our example, because He is the quintessential servant.
In his book, Improving Your Serve, Charles Swindoll writes, “You are most godlike when you give.” We totally agree. But please note, “giving” encompasses far more than sharing one’s financial and material resources. We should by all means do that whenever the opportunity arises. And we certainly should give on a regular basis within our local faith communities, as well as to worthy causes and charitable institutions. But “giving” also includes sharing one’s time and talents. It includes the giving of one’s self, by making oneself available — and then being there for others.
Generosity is not a natural tendency, however. Therefore, “giving” is a supernatural act with supernatural repercussions. “…The Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35 NIV) Again, “giving” is about more than money. Remember, Christ gave His life for us! So precisely what kind of “giving” makes us more godlike?
The kind of giving characterized by Jesus Christ, falls under the broader heading of HOSPITALITY.
Now, before we go any further, hospitality (in the true, Biblical sense) is NOT the same as modern entertaining! To understand the huge difference we direct you to our most recent book, The Heart of an Angel.
Biblical Hospitality expresses the full nature of our Lord: loving, accepting, welcoming, giving, and self-sacrificing. These traits are summed up in a single verse: “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJB)
Clearly, God welcomes everyone — all of us “whosoever”s! Indeed, the whole message of the Gospel is about a Hospitable Heavenly Father who lays out the welcome mat to Heaven (through His Son Jesus Christ). He invites us in, to become a part of His spiritual family, and welcomes us back to a right relationship with Himself. In fact, the greatest act of hospitality ever demonstrated, was at the Cross, where Christ the promised Messiah and Savior of the world, Yeshua, served Himself as the Passover Lamb! (1 Corinthians 5:7)
Serving goes hand in hand with giving, but both are part of Hospitality. Here’s a definition that ties together these divine attributes:
Biblical Hospitality is an attitude of the heart (love) expressed through a lifestyle of giving and serving. It’s the giving of one’s time, talents, and resources. It’s the giving of oneself!
Both giving and serving involve sacrifice. Face it, serving is almost never convenient, and it’s often not easy. For instance: it’s rarely convenient to visit a coworker in the hospital when the medical facility is several miles out of your way; it’s not easy to purchase a gift for someone’s special occasion when you’d rather spend the money on yourself; and it’s neither easy nor convenient to help out a struggling neighbor with household chores. Such acts of giving and serving generally involve some type of sacrifice. And that’s another reason why being hospitable is also being like Christ.
So why bother? Being hospitable can be as simple as inviting someone over for coffee or tea — but who among us creators and dreamers has the time for that?!?
Well, if you’re too busy to reach out to others, particularly to those closest to you, or to establish and strengthen relationships (the true aim of hospitality), then you’re really too busy! So make some time for giving to (and serving) others. And here’s a sobering thought: Thank God our Heavenly Father is never too busy for us!
Join us next session, for “Hush Up and Be Hospitable.” In the meantime, go now and give!