Hospitality vs. Entertainment

by Mary Clare Freel

As we consider the subject of hospitality, let’s clear up a common misconception about what is involved. We need to distinguish between hospitality and entertainment. Often we will say, “We entertain a lot.” There is a big difference between hospitality and entertaining.

This excerpt from Karen Mains’ book Open Heart, Open Home says it best:

We think in terms of entertaining as women’s chance to demonstrate her skill and the quality of her home. Entertaining has little to do with real hospitality. Secular entertaining is a terrible bondage. It’s source is human pride. Demanding perfection, fostering the urge to impress, it is a rigorous taskmaster that enslaves. In contrast, spiritual hospitality is a freedom that liberates. Entertaining says, I want to impress you with my beautiful home, my clever decorating, my gourmet cooking. Hospitality, however, seeks to minister. It says, “This home is not mine. It is truly a gift from my Master. I am his servant, and I use it as he desires.” Hospitality does not try to impress but to serve.

Entertainment always puts things before people…Hospitality, however, puts people before things.

It doesn’t mean a seven-course dinner. Casual entertaining is very popular right now. Proverbs 15:17 says, “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.” Pancake suppers, baked potato suppers, soup and bread, or grilled cheese sandwiches all are great options. This does not have to be on the Lord’s Day for lunch; you can set aside one night a week, or every other week, for company.

Keep an eye out for those who may be alone and enfold them into your family, such as the elderly or widowed, college students, or singles. It is easy to have outgoing, familiar people over, but we need to reach beyond the comfortable to those who are quiet, shy, perhaps awkward, who stretch the boundaries of our love. You never know how God may use you in their lives and them in yours.

Our homes are not fortresses in which to hide from the world. They should be more like hospital wards where sin-sick souls may find healing, where blind eyes are made to see. A home of a Christian is to be a lighthouse from which shines the glory of God, drawing sinners away from the world into fellowship with His Son.

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