Showing Hospitality Despite Our Messes

August 13, 2012 · 6 comments

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by Britney Hamm

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”-Romans 8:32

An unexpected knock on the door. What? I’m not expecting anyone!

The house is a mess! How much can I pick up on my way to the door? Ah, I’m running low on food and our grocery budget is already stretched. I hope they don’t notice the extra clutter in the dining room…

I love hosting people in our home. Yet all too often my hospitality is hindered by thoughts such as these running through my head. Perhaps you find yourself in the same boat. Perhaps…

- You are concerned about your reputation as a homemaker, so you scurry and stress to have the house clean before anyone comes over.

- You are embarrassed to have people over at all because you think your home is too small, your decorating abilities are lacking, or your cooking skills are repulsive.

- Your willingness to have people over is determined by what’s convenient for you.

- You are so tight on money that you’re afraid an extra guest will put you in the red.

- You pressure yourself to make a stunning meal every time someone comes to eat.

I think all of these objections to hospitality can be boiled down to two heart-revealing questions:

1. Am I good enough?
2. What if people see my mess?

The hope for deliverance from these two questions starts with the greatest act of hospitality ever shown, and that is this:

Our perfect, holy God sent his son Jesus into our broken world to die a brutal death for our sins. He forsook his own son in order to rescue us. He adopted us as his children and gives us right to his abundant inheritance (Ephesians 1:4-6, Colossians 1:12).

This hospitality that God has shown us frees us to extend the same selfless, loving, bare-nothing hospitality we have been shown.

How does God do that?

For every one of us the ultimate answer to the “Am I Good Enough?” question is our worst fear: we aren’t good enough. At least not on an eternal scale. Nothing we can offer is ever good enough to make us right before God. Jesus said, “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

Hospitality starts when we admit that we aren’t enough—but that God, who spared nothing to rescue us (Romans 8:32) and gives everything he has to us, is enough.

When we see what we have in Christ we can humbly say to our guests “I have nothing in myself to offer. This is what God has given me, and because of his sufficiency for me, I invite you to partake in it.”

God provides what we need for hospitality. But what about our insecurities about our messy lives? “What if people see my mess?” “I don’t have time to clean.” “My kids are too crazy.” “We’re remodeling and it’s too chaotic.” “Our marriage is going through a rough time.”

A friend of mine once said that hospitality is about being willing to invite people into our mess.

We must be willing to let people see the mess of our homes and our lives if we want God to be proclaimed and glorified through our hospitality. True ministry happens best in the midst of real, messy life—just as Jesus’ ministry and mission happened not in pristine palaces with perfect people but on dusty roads and a bloody cross with imperfect people and condemned sinners.

When we understand that Jesus has cleaned up our greatest mess—the mess of our sin—and given us an unshakeable identity and inheritance (1 John 3:1, Romans 8:17, 1 Peter 1:3-4), we are able to invite people into our reality without pretense.

Of course, we’re not excused from ever cleaning our homes again before guests come or from seeking to do our best to make our guests feel welcomed. But we need to be freed from our hospitality obstacles by looking at our Lord’s hospitality that welcomes us freely as his children. Then we can be set free from our selfish objections so that we can readily open up our homes, our families, and our lives to those around us for the glory of God and the good of others.

Britney lives in Missouri with her campus missionary husband, Travis, and their blue-eyed baby Ambrielle. Brit is a former dancer who had horse jockey aspirations and played street hockey. Her well-rounded interests also include theology, chocolate, disciple-making and ballroom dancing. But her favorite thing to talk about is how God breaks into our lives with His grace.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tim August 13, 2012 at 10:59 pm

“hospitality is about being willing to invite people into our mess.”

So true. If we waited until everything was just right before anyone came over, we’d never have anyone over!



2 Tracy August 14, 2012 at 6:03 am

This is so true! And so convicting! I so often hold back from having people over or feel awkward when people are over because of my own insecurities and fear of people seeing my mess. Thanks for writing this article. It is really helpful to think about in this way.


3 Betsy August 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm

This is a great post, Britney. Thanks. I live in the Middle East, and have company often. I can relate to your ideas. I have learned to be more relaxed: let guests help, open a bag of store bought cookies when you don’t have time to bake. Hospitality is about inviting people into your home and life to share what you have!


4 Mel August 16, 2012 at 6:43 am

I am so the mother whose arms are full of things to through into the rain coat closet or under the couch before i open the door, make excuses to my quests about why the house looks the way it does and my hearts is frustrated because i want others to think i am that cleanest, godliest mother they ever knew. What a wonderful post to rebuke, open my eyes and direct me into the right path. Thank You!


5 Alisa October 10, 2012 at 5:56 pm

My sister just directed me to this blog and I’m so thankful she did! I can’t tell you how many sermons in the past month have brought me to the command to be good stewards of all that we have! My husband and I are always tight on money and so when the topic of generosity and hospitality comes up, it’s easy for me to start to make excuses. But God keeps showing me that it’s not about putting on a show for people so I can feel like I “blessed” them. It’s inviting people into my life, sharing what I have been given, and being intentional. People notice messes less when they are met with a generous heart that is ready to listen and engage them. Thank you for this post!


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