Hospitality has always been an important part of the Southern culture, but it seems to be slowly fading away. I see many large, beautiful homes built for entertaining where the family isn't home, much less any guests because both husband and wife are so busy working they don't have time. It's becoming a lost art in the face of long hours at work and fast food eaten in a traffic jam on the way to Karate lessons.
Hospitality does take effort, but it doesn't have to be a burden. I think sometimes we make it harder than it has to be. Our homes don't have to be designer decorated and spotless in order to be welcoming. Perfection is intimidating and uncomfortable. I would rather visit a home where there is a real, loving family. A few toys and books scattered around and sweet tea in a Mason jar are more comforting and welcoming than a home that is museum quality perfect. Hospitality is not about trying to outdo the neighbors.
Whether you have a few friends and neighbors over for pizza on paper plates or you bring out Grandma's china for a formal dinner party you are obeying God's command. You are also creating sweet memories for your children and setting an excellent example. Our children should be encouraged to have other young people over.
We have entertained MANY teenage boys over the years. My sons have all enjoyed having friends over. Many Sundays when Peter still lived at home found us taking 3 or even 4 extra boys to church with us. I would make a huge Sunday dinner after church and they would sit at the table and eat with us. Our home was their home away from home and the only place for most of them where they were around a traditional apron wearing, cookie baking stay at home mom. Some of these boys had church homes of their own, but some didn't. One young man in particular (now in the military like Peter) had never been to church at all until he started going with us. He was later saved and then baptized on the Sunday he graduated from high school at our church. This young man's father has even come to church with us a few times and been over for dinner because of the hospitality shown to his son.
We have also opened our home to exchange students. We had one from Chile and one from New Zealand. I don't know that either became a Christian after their months in our home, but they were at least able to hear the gospel and be part of a family that prayed together.
As a housewife and keeper at home I am able to reach out to a mission field without ever leaving my home. The things we do at home can ripple out and have far reaching effects on the world around us.
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." Hebrews 13:2 (NKJV)