Daily Proverbial, 24 June 2011

Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments. Proverbs 23, verses 6-8.

Gee that’s a ray of sunshine, isn’t it?

My grandparents were good hosts. Even if he didn’t care for the company, my grandfather was usually polite, gracious in opening his home to family and friends. My mom tells stories of the Depression, when hobos would ride the rails (which weren’t far from the house) and how they would show up asking for food in exchange for work. She would have them sweep the stairs or do some small chore, then feed them a meal. From what I remember, I never saw my grandparents be unkind to people in their home. They weren’t begrudging hosts.

I can’t say the same thing for myself. After all, I live in the twenty-first century, home of modern man who is suspicious of everyone around him. I’m afraid to open up my home to others; maybe they won’t like it or, heaven forbid, maybe they will and want more. Maybe I will have to actually open my heart to them. It’s like Benjamin Franklin wrote the theme: fish and guests stink after 3 days.

We all know people who are miserly and stingy, the kind of person whose house you go to and they want you to take off your shoes, not use the bathroom because they just cleaned it, use only certain towels, give you only one glass of tap water (if that), and things like that. It’s rude isn’t it? You go to their place and you feel irked when you leave, like you’re sorry you went. I wouldn’t want to do that to someone even if they did it to me; would you? It’s not how my grandparents would have treated their visitors.

That’s when I remember that I’m a modern, twenty-first century man and I do it all the time in more ways than just when people show up at my door.

This is the point where comes to mind the New Testament story of Christ telling the sometimes-confused disciples about the person who is rewarded for their kindness even though they didn’t recognize Him in the guise of a stranger. It’s in Matthew 25, verses 35 through 45. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.” When they didn’t understand, Jesus said what it meant: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Kind of sums up what it means to be a good host, doesn’t it? More than that, it kind of sums up what the heart of a hosting attitude will be. Boil it down and I believe “serve” is the key. He came to serve, not be served. So should we. We should do it in everything we do, not just in hosting others. If I died and went to heaven right now, God wouldn’t be a begrudging eternal host. He promised paradise and that is in all things. Why wait for heaven? How about we put that into play here and now?

I hate to say it (I really do) but you and I act begrudging towards God every day. We are stingy hosts, as in hosting Him in our lives. We hold back from him; we hold out on Him in our hearts. We only share with Him what we think He needs to know, not fully giving our thoughts, dreams, loves and dislikes, and everything else to Him. He doesn’t do that to us, though. When His Spirit moves in our lives, it does so fully. He wants us to do that same for Him by doing it for others. That heart of service, giving of myself without thinking “what about” is a hard thing to work on. I know it is for me and I’m guessing it may be for you too. How about we work on it together? That is a real ray of warm sunshine. We’ll be doing our God and our grandparents proud.

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