Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

Hospitality 101 - Proper Use of the Doily

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 23 September 2008

“Hospitality is becoming an almost forgotten Christian virtue in our style of life today… In the New Testament, however, hospitality was a distinctive mark of Christians and Christian communities.”
~Alexander Strauch
from The Hospitality Commands

Our shallow, media-driven
, post-modern culture views hospitality (and I admit I often do too) through the exquisite, decorous, picturesque images of Martha Stewart Living and Ladies’ Home Journal. Hospitality has been reduced to the idea of private and pretentious entertaining with delicious dinners and polite conversations. And. . . Yes. I love to plan and execute the possibilities of perfection in my own home . . .

Even my little Selah appreciates the use of a paper doily when presenting her homemade delicacies.

But. . . my whimsy -- and my daughter’s vision of being a creative homemaker -- is a complete distortion of Christian hospitality which has little to do with delicious food and polite conversation. Christian hospitality remains a God-given commandment having little to do with domestic ability and perfection.

When the Apostle Paul urged the Roman Christians to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1), he was specifically instructing them to “be transformed [from the Roman Empire’s way of thinking] by the renewing of your minds,” “. . . hate what is evil,” and “. . . be patient in suffering.

These are pretty serious instructions for a group of Christians already being persecuted. But then he gives this command:

“Extend hospitality to strangers.”

What was he thinking?!

So what was acceptable “hospitality” in First Century Rome? The New Testament Christians certainly were not detoured by consumerism and the hospitality “industry.” Did hospitality simply mean being “nice?” Reaching out to strangers? Ministering to those with physical needs? And how would the Roman Christians go about doing these things in Jesus’ name when they were already under great persecution by Nero?

In Acts Chapter 2, we learn that these early Christians were devoted to “the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Any hospitality practiced in the New Testament Church had to flow out of this framework of life and worship.

As they learned from the apostle’s teaching, they shared it.
And the Church grew.

As they enjoyed fellowship, they shared the friendship.
And the Church grew.

As they ate meals together, they certainly extended the invitation to others. (They probably shared recipes too!)
And the Church grew.

As they prayed together, they received comfort and power and wisdom – which was shared!
And the Church grew.

As these Christians received from God, they gave back.
And the Church grew!

That’s hospitality: Giving back.
Growing God's Church!

All believers are called to hospitality:

Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
- Romans 12:13

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
- Hebrews 13:2

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
- 1 Peter 4:9

Throughout Scripture, godliness and hospitality have always been synonymous. If we are true believers, we have all been called to minister to others. It’s called “Hospitality.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
By the way. . . Presenting hospitality on a pretty doily never hurts.
See Selah's recipe for Hermits at The Goossen Kitchen
And read about making them at The Excellent Homeschool Adventure.

- Esthermay Bentley-Goossen

© Copyright 2008 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife

See More In Other Words at Joyfully Living For His Glory


MiPa said...

Great post Esthermay! Thanks for sharing.

sara said...

I loved this post Esthermay! This is the vision we are trying to cast at our church!! Also, I just had a young mom ask me to mentor her in "hospitality". I wasn't sure how I was going to do that, but she feels called to learn...I will be printing this out for her as we start...beautifully said!!

Laurie Ann said...

Excellent post! I loved it. I learned much more about hospitality than I knew...and it seems not as scary. Thanks for sharing. Happy Tuesday!

Chelsey said...

"Throughout Scripture, godliness and hospitality have always been synonymous. If we are true believers, we have all been called to minister to others. It’s called “Hospitality."

Wonderful words Esthermay!!! So very true.

jamie in rose cottage said...

I do enjoy a pretty doily, but your points are right on. Wonderful post--thanks for sharing!

Karen said...

....And the church grew. Great point. Fancy that, we need to do our part in order for God to be able to do His through us. A good start is hospitality.

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

So very true...Martha Stewart has nothing on true hospitality ;)

Thanks so much for sharing!

Kat said...

Great scriptures on hospitality, thanks for sharing them!

Patricia Warren said...

Lovely way to kick the excuses under the table, Esthermay! I grew up with a "Martha Stewart" type mother. Our home was always open-house ready (hers still is-mine not so much!).

I love to put on tea parties and all the fuss involved. But because it's so exhausting, I reserve it for times when my sisters are visiting from out of town.

Thanks for pointing out the Biblical truths of opening our homes and sharing whatever the Lord has given us. I hope I get to the place that I can freely be what the Bible requires.

Rachel said...

What an awesome (and convicting!) post! I get so caught up in the Martha-esque style of entertaining. It's more important that I share eternal food with my guests than just a pretty dish that will temporarily fill.

But the doilies are nice, aren't they? :)

mamas*little*treasures said...

Hi Esthermay - thanks for stopping by my blog, even though I was a bit late getting to the party this week! I so appreciate when women can share with each other, honestly, about the things that are most important. I'm sure we all have some level of anxiety over this issue, trying to make things as "perfect" as possible, but it is such an inspiration to be reminded that hospitality is more about sharing of ourselves than impressing people with our beautiful homes. Also, I appreciated your observation about my blog being kind of "sticky" - I sometimes wonder when I write things that are so honest (because I've been through some things that lots of younger Christian women believe will never happen to them - and I hope they are right, but that's what I thought 25 years ago, too!) - and I don't want to offend, but I don't think we can truly experience the fullness of God's grace unless we are honest. So, thanks for your words of encouragement! Nina

Kris said...


first let me say 'thanks' for visiting my blog...i hope you come back. did i notice you have a blog strictly about your home school? i'll check it out.

great post. hospitality is a lost virtue. i usually come by it naturally, but when i am exhausted, it seems to creep out of the door.


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