Lauren Spangler. Age 10. Rather short, a little plump, strawberry blond hair, freckles, crooked teeth, and mean as a rattlesnake.
Her latest victim – my younger sister, Michelle.
Since they shared the same grade, they attended the same classes in church. For some reason, Lauren took it upon herself to start spreading lies about my sister and poking fun at her during any chance that presented itself.
I’d love to impress you and share how I, as the godly big sis, encouraged a Biblical response to my sister. But, alas, I wanted Michelle to ignore Lauren and run the other way. Much to my surprise, one Thursday afternoon I overhear my sister talking with my mom. “Are you sure?” my mom asks. “Yes, ma’am,” my sister replies. Within five minutes Michelle has hung up the phone with a smile on her face. “Lauren is coming over Sunday afternoon,” she states with a confident sweetness.
Sure enough, Sunday following church we all piled into our minivan, Lauren included! I don’t remember much about that afternoon other than all of us enjoying Sunday dinner around our dining room table, Lauren acting mannerly and answering our questions, and my sister sharing her toys and favorite places with this new found friend. All afternoon these ten year olds giggled and played the day away.
In the months and years that followed, Lauren and Michelle remained acquaintances, but they never became best friends. However, I know that the love and hospitality my sister shared squelched the meanness Lauren gave forever.
Hospitality – a word we often use to describe opening our home to friends, sharing a meal, and having Christian fellowship. But does hospitality begin when guests arrive at our door? How did Jesus, our ultimate example, the One we are to follow, show hospitality? I mean, he had no home or place to lay His head.
Matthew 9:36 speaks of Jesus looking with compassion on the multitudes. He saw individuals in need, people longing for love, and men and women searching for hope. Jesus healed, fed, listened, and sought these souls. Shouldn’t we do the same?
Hospitality begins in our heart. When we look at others, do we see the outward appearances? Do we focus on the things that others may do that we would never participate in? Or, are we seeking to have a hospitable heart that welcomes and loves others? Are we remembering the love, patience, and compassion that Christ has shown us, and therefore sharing that hospitality with others? Do we really believe that all we own belongs to Christ? If so, we shouldn’t worry about how fancy our home may be, what types of dainty food we can afford, or if our children will act perfectly for company. When we trust Christ for all we call “ours”, how can we help but share those blessings with others?
Since hospitality begins in our heart, we need to spend ample amount of time praying for others and seeking to love those around us. Whether it’s a sweet couple from church or the annoying classmate that makes our life miserable, may our lives mirror the compassion of Christ and be hospitable to all those around us – even the Lauren Spanglers.
Monica is married to Matthew and has two adorable little girls Abigail and Aubrey. She can be found writing at A Godly Heritage.