Would you say that your home is a place where you hide away and take ‘refuge’ from the world? Or is it a safe place from the world for people to come and take refuge?
More often than not, our home is a place that we use to hide away. We rush inside before our neighbors can say hello. We keep our headphones in while we do yard work outside to ensure that we avoid conversation. We isolate ourselves from strangers without any intention of opening the doors for conversation.
And yet, we are only called to two things: to love God and love people.
Jesse and I have been incredibly challenged by teachings at church recently regarding loving our neighbors. There are so many distractions in our world that keep us from serving and loving people well, aren’t there? We live our lives watching Netflix mindlessly for hours, running to and from kid’s sports, working overtime, endlessly cleaning our homes, scrolling through our phones or just focusing too much on ourselves and our own pleasure. Without realizing it, our hearts grow cold in our love for others and we become solely focused on love for self.
We so often choose the distraction that makes our own lives more pleasant or comfortable. But what if we chose the second option? What if we chose to let go of our busy lives, even for a season, and see what it’s like to serve the people around us, despite lack of time or convenience?
Every single moment, we have the option to choose between personal pleasure or selfless love.
Jesse and I are not perfect at this at all; we have recently allowed life to get in the way and have been a lot more selfish and wary of opening ourselves up to people outside of our usual friends, family and casual acquaintances. We used to love hosting weekly BBQ’s and parties at our house because it was always something to help get us outside of ourselves. It reminded us of the purpose of our lives.
And even though we really do long to spend time with family, friends and strangers, we need encouragement and can easily lose sight of what’s really important. Busyness, convenience, disinterest or disappointment can all lead us to closing ourselves off to the outside world.
But Phil 2:3 challenges us to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves.”
When is the last time you invited someone that you didn’t really know to enjoy a meal at your home, just to show them love? Have you recently made plans for coffee with someone that you didn’t have time for, just because they needed company? God isn’t looking for you to have immense ability to be hospitable, he only calls for you to be available. You don’t need a perfect home or an empty schedule, you only need to be willing to love.
What if we all chose to go just a little bit further when it comes to paying-it-forward? It may not be the most comfortable or convenient for you, but what if rather than just buying a coffee in line (which is always a kind gesture), you went above and beyond to invite someone for a meal or gathering where you could share real life with them?
1 John says, “If you claim to live in Him, you must walk as Jesus did.” Jesse and I want to do that. We have always promised one another that we wouldn’t allow ourselves to become “comfortable” in our lives, because most of the time, comfort allows stagnancy.
We are realizing just how much growth we need when it comes to loving people – all people – in the same way that we love our family.
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:8-9
We don’t want to live a life that is self-consumed, with the only goal of ‘having’ more things and hoarding them up for ourselves. We want to be generous with our time, our money and the blessings that God has given us. We want to live for a whole lot more than the ‘American Dream.’ We are ready to love people, pour into them and share real life with them.
Friends, I want to encourage you to look at your spare time over the last month.
Did you invite anyone into who your home who needed some love and company, even if your life and house weren’t in order?
Did anyone who had vastly different beliefs and viewpoints sit across from you at coffee?
Do you know your neighbor’s names? Have you invited them over for a meal?
Does your dinner table reflect one who loves like Jesus loves?
Hebrews 13:2 reminds us, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
Open your doors this week. There are so many people in this world who just need to be reminded that they’re not alone. Let us love well every single day and remember that this life is worth so much more than Netflix binges and selfish pursuits.