A wonderful friend, Nancy Wilson, writes a weekly devotional! This is last weeks:
Three Bean Salad 1-21-2010
Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2 (NLT)
Three bean salad anyone? Several years ago, a dear lady with whom we were acquainted invited us over for dinner. We arrived on time with our appetite and manners intact and began enjoying the wonderful meal she had prepared – with one exception – the three bean salad. Now some folks really enjoy this colorful dish with the tangy vinegar flavor. Rick and I have very few things that we dislike, but I would have to say that this one probably tops the list. But at the time, we really didn’t know that – until we took the first bite!
We both naively placed a portion on our plates and began eating. I took a bite and looked at Rick. He took a bite and looked at me. Thankfully, our mommas raised us with pretty good manners, so we knew not to spit it out or say anything rude. What should we do? You can push those beans around your plate, but when the table is cleared, it’s still going to be obvious that the beans are still there. So what did we do? We ate our portion and prayed it would stay put! Our kind hostess, noticing something slightly amiss and having a pretty good sense of humor, generously offered us a second helping of her mouth-watering bean salad. We politely declined, indicating we were saving room for dessert.
Hospitality is defined as, “the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.” Would you classify yourself as a hospitable person? Our friend was very hospitable and we immensely enjoyed dinner at her home in spite of the 3 bean salad. Needless to say, she teased us about that for years.
Hospitality is not always something we do, but it is always something we enjoy when we’re on the receiving end. Scripture instructs us in Romans 12:9-13, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” (NLT)
Back when the Scriptures were written, hotels were scarce or unheard of. Restaurants were non-existent. When one traveled, you relied on the generosity of family or strangers.
One great Old Testament story in 1 Kings 17 is about the prophet, Elijah, and the Widow of Zarephath. Scripture does not reveal her name, but it does testify of her generosity. There was a famine in the country, and Elijah, in need of food and lodging, was sent by God to the widow’s home. He asked for food and she was at first reluctant to give what she had left for one more meal for her son and herself. But with Elijah’s urging, she prepared what she had and shared it with God’s man. As the story continues, it is revealed how God miraculously supplied for her family throughout the famine.
Hospitality doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Sometimes it is just a simple meal or a comfortable chair in which to rest. Sometimes it is a drink of water or a door that is opened. I believe though, that the result will be the same – God’s blessings for the provider.
Rick and I always rejoice and are thankful for the generosity shown us so many times as God has provided for us through others. At the same time, we are also thankful for opportunities that we have to share what we have with family, friends, and strangers. We are always richly rewarded with the relationships that are built and strengthened when we show hospitality to those around us.
I encourage you to open your hearts and your homes to “angels” whether they are earthly or heavenly. You never know who it is that you may entertain!