When you pass by someone’s free stuff sitting out on the curb, do you stop and take a closer look, or ignore it altogether?
Recently, my husband and I took advantage of a rare moment of freedom (read: babysitting), and set out on our bikes. We cycled through upscale neighborhoods, pointing out our favorite homes and landscaping, until we spotted this strange-looking device by the side of the road.
I wasn’t surprised when my husband instantly recognized what it was: an inversion table. We pedaled home fast. He jumped off his bike and climbed into his ’99 station wagon (the same one he’s been driving since he got his license thirteen years ago). He loaded the contraption into the back, and returned to research what inversion tables go for these days.
A couple weeks later he danced around the house, waving the $50 we had made.
How Should We Spend It?
“Is it wrong to want more money?” he had wondered aloud a few weeks before.
“How would we spend the money if we did have it?” I questioned.
After thinking about it, we both agreed: Hospitality.
We got an opportunity to practice hospitality with a couple who moved in across the street, and we now had fifty more dollars to spend.
Because they’re from Iraq, they don’t have family or many friends here. So we rallied nearly twenty friends and helped move them in, mow their lawn, and more. The mother only speaks Arabic, but as her words spilled out, she blew a kiss toward heaven. I knew she was expressing thanks for our help.
We provided a meal after, and our neighbors surprised us by also calling in an order for Middle Eastern food. I heated the large rounds of pita bread in the oven. Then I roasted a s’more for the mother over our bonfire, and we sent people home with leftovers.
Love for Strangers
Hospitality can hurt. If this is often the case, why do it?
I recently learned that the Greek word for hospitality, “philoxenia,” means “love for stranger.” And that’s exactly who we were — strangers — before God threw open the doors of his home to us:
Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. . . So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. (Ephesians 2:12–13, 19)
As Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth writes in her newest book Adorned, “At the heart of the gospel, at the heart of the cross, is the Lord Jesus opening his arms wide and saying, ‘I want you to come home with me.’”
Worth the Expense
My husband and I are taking small, wobbly steps toward loving strangers, in hopes that we will better see and show the magnificent generosity of Jesus. And quite frankly, the joy far outweighs the pain.
“Is it strange that I feel sorry for him?” my husband asked me the other day of someone whose Instagram account is filled with one exotic vacation after another.
“No,” I replied. “I wouldn’t trade our life for his. While it’s ordinary, it’s so exciting.”
I can’t think of another life I’d rather live than opening my heart and home to others with this frugal but generous man by my side. Jesus is right: The upside-down life really does bring the most joy: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Hospitality isn’t always glamorous. It’s hard work. But hospitality — on a budget or otherwise — is worth it.