When you think of the word hospitality, what do you think of first? For so many of us, the word immediately stirs up images of setting the fanciest tables and hosting the loftiest affairs. But author Amy Hannon reminds us in her latest book, Gather & Give, that the hospitality of the bible doesn’t seek to showcase ourselves but seeks to serve others, using the ministry of a shared meal to meet the emotional, relational, and spiritual needs of those around us. Having served thousands around her table in her three decades as a pastor’s wife, Amy’s biblical wisdom and relatable insights remind us that the purpose of true biblical hospitality is to demonstrate the heart of God to those around us. It is a delight to welcome Amy to the farm’s table today…
Jennifer and her husband are walking through a disappointing season of infertility. If you’ve found yourself on the same journey, then you know there are daily occurrences that remind you that you’re not yet a parent.
Jennifer confessed, it’s a struggle being both sad and mad that she’s not a mama while still being genuinely excited for people who are celebrating their new lives with little ones.
Through the frustration of this time, Jennifer has felt God teaching her to serve anyway. Through her heartbreak and tears, the Lord has been nudging her to love and serve the expectant mamas in her life.
Recently, one of her dearest friends, who was thirty-nine weeks pregnant and exhausted, mentioned that she needed to get groceries for some slow cooker meals that week. Prompted by the Holy Spirit (the one who replaces your intuition with God’s intuition), Jennifer asked her friend if she had freezer space, sensing in that moment the call to love and serve her friend.
So Jennifer planned to make three meals for them in order for this new little family to be fed when they got home from the hospital: Italian chicken sliders, white chicken lasagna, and southwestern taco bake.
“In those moments, she realized she could desperately desire something that someone else was being blessed with, while loving and serving that person with a glad heart anyway.”
The following night, Jennifer spent a couple of hours in the kitchen prepping, chopping, stirring, assembling, and wrapping meals. And while she worked, she prayed.
She prayed for God to bless her friend’s growing family, for happiness and health, grace and favor. Jennifer would tell you that those prayers were as much for her as they were for her friends.
In those moments, she realized she could desperately desire something that someone else was being blessed with, while loving and serving that person with a glad heart anyway.
Jennifer loved others deeply, humbly served her friend’s family, and gladly laid down her life, showing them God’s heart through her hospitality.
First John 3:16–18 tells us,
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
“If God’s people love people, then God’s people serve people.”
“Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” Simply stated: loving and serving go hand in hand. If God’s people love people, then God’s people serve people.
You see, love is more than a feeling, more than an idea, more than intention. Love is more than well-wishing or expressing concern. It moves. It gestures. It acts. Bob Goff explained in his book Love Does, “Love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does.”
The depth of love we’re encouraged to show throughout Scripture moves beyond, “I’m so glad you’re in our neighborhood” and, “I’m so sorry to hear that!” Love moves to action.
Love goes to the grocery store. Love takes out the trash. It drives a meal across town.
Love vacuums and dusts. Love sweeps the porch. It runs errands on behalf of others.
“Love leans in, speaks with grace, and prays. Love opens the door. Love welcomes. And love serves.”
Love pours coffee and steeps tea. Love hosts an elderly neighbor or a gaggle of giggling girls.
Love loads the dishwasher. It sets a table or counts paper plates.
Love picks up a pizza. Love sears meat and roasts carrots. Love folds towels and washes sheets.
Love leans in, speaks with grace, and prays. Love opens the door. Love welcomes. And love serves.
“How can people who say they love God see emotional and physical needs of those around them and not be moved to action?”
In 1 John 3:17 it says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”
How can people who say they love God see emotional and physical needs of those around them and not be moved to action? John said they can’t, or the love of God isn’t truly in them.
With respect to biblical hospitality, we can translate the passage this way: “What good does it do to have the means and the time to make a few freezer meals if you don’t prepare them for a pregnant friend?” “What good does it do to have the ingredients for soup in your pantry if you don’t make it and share it with your grieving neighbor?” “What good does it do to have a guest room if you don’t turn down the sheets and invite someone to stay?”
Here’s the bottom line, friends. If we say we love God and we claim that His love is in us, then we serve others.
God’s people love people. And God’s people serve.
Amy Nelson Hannon lives in Northwest Arkansas in the heart of the Ozark Mountains. She owns Euna Mae’s, a one-of-a-kind kitchen boutique named after her grandmother. She authored a comfort food cookbook titled Love Welcome Serve, and she hosted her own cooking show for several years. Amy speaks to women, hosts curated travel excursions and table events, and drums up all kinds of experiences in order to share her heart for everyday biblical hospitality.
In Gather & Give, Amy explores the spiritual and relational significance of everyday hospitality. This beautiful book includes a handbook with practical encouragement, real life stories, and easy-to-make recipes from Amy’s kitchen. Each chapter also includes questions to process in personal devotion or together with friends. Gather & Give will help you discover the true purpose of biblical hospitality, the eternal impact of a shared meal, and how Jesus used the table as His pulpit to love others well.
[ Our humble thanks to Thomas Nelson for their partnership in today’s devotion ]