“Don’t foret to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”
–Hebrews 13:2 (NLT)
The lobby was full, and Austin had to elbow his way up to the counter. He finally reached it after what seemed like hours. But then, of course, he had to wait in a line that was moving more slowly than a slew of snails. Two people ahead of him didn’t seem to be paying customers, but they acted like they had all day to chat about lunch plans.
Austin didn’t mean to evesdrop as he stood there, but he was soon seething. The woman behind the counter should have used her break time for idle conversation, instead of holding up the line right now.
Shifting from one foot to the other Austin grumbled, “I have a busy day ahead of me, so of course I have to be exhausted after my flight. I wish those people in front of me would just hurry up and leave, before I have to head out to my meetings.”
When it was finally his turn, Austin almost rran up to the counter. Glaring fiercely at the clerk behind the desk, he snapped caustically, “I’m Austin Carter. I registered online.” Then, telling himself it would be wise to start off on the right foot, Austin willfully bit his tongue before he could say what was really on his mind.
“Oh, yes! Here you are,” the receptionist chortled, plastering on a fake smile. Then she quickly added in a more monotone voice, “Our customers are our first priority.”
She mindlessly babbled on, listing some of the hotel’s amenities. In the middle of her sentence, however, she was interupted by a phone call, and immediately her personality changed. She gave the impatient Austin a curt nodd, holding the receiver in one hand. Then, the woman mouthed the words, “Here you go,” and attempted to wave him off while handing over his key card.
Being a first-time visotor, Austin determined that he wouldn’t go anywhere without directions, so he stubbornly stood right there. Seeing this, the irritated receptionist decided to take the phone call in her office, and she shut the door with a bang. But when she opened it moments later and saw that her customer was still there, she sighed in exasperation.
“Oh, you’re still here? I guess there’s no rest for the wicked.
“As I was saying,” she went on shortly, “I am simply up to my eyeballs in work. I don’t know why you’re still standing here.”
As if to emphasize her point, she shuffled the papers on her desk.
Upon getting no response from Austin, she impatiently jerked her finger towards the elavator and growled, “Go up to the third floor. Room 310 will be the first door on your left.”
By now Austin wanted to be anywhere else but there, so the grumpy woman didn’t have to tell him twice to scram.
Reaching the elavator doors, Austin was scowling and preparing to wait some more, when the doors slid open right in front of him.
“Mercifully,” he sighed, “that conversation is relegated to the land of bad memories.” But his nightmare wasn’t over yet.
When he stepped out onto the third floor, He didn’t see his room, so he wandered around like a lost puppy.
“Even if the hotel clerk was having a bad day,” he snarled to himself, “she had no right to take it out on me. Her directions were so vague, and her attitude was just plain rude.”
Upon finally locating his room with a little help, Austin couldn’t help but shout, “Yes!” As he pulled his key card from his pocket with a flourish, he muttered under his breath, “If the customer is your first priority, I’d like to see your last one.”
Then, with great relief, he opened the door and collapsed on the bed, vowing never to return to the so-called Hospitality Inn again.
The hotel clerk in our story is a reflection of a society seriously lacking in the art of hospitality. I use the term “art” because some people just have a gift for making others feel at home in their presence. But no matter what your gifts are, the Bible places an extremely high value upon hospitality.
According to God’s Word, all followers of Christ are admonished to exercise the muscle of kindness when it comes to cordially receiving others. But just like a physical muscle, this show of kindness requires exercise on our parts. So let’s work out spiritually and take a trip to the hospitality gym.
Since Americans love to eat, I will start there. If you’re like me, you don’t just eat–you eat the wrong things. Just as your physical diet is of utmost importance, you need to ask yourself what you are allowing into your mind and heart each day.
So before going to the Treadmill of Transformation to shed those spiritual pounds, we need to think about changing our spiritual eating habits. In our spiritual lives, we often believe we are consuming something when, in fact, it consumes us.
A hypothetical example of this might be your best friend’s promotion at work. You heard about it first at the water cooler, and you’ve been filled with growing rage ever since.
You think, as his friend, that you deserve some points, too. After all, you got him the job in the first place. But even though you’re in the same department, your boss doesn’t give you any credit for that. He doesn’t even mention your name in passing.
Instead of being fed by God’s Word, though, you allow envy to devour you like a ravenous beast, and the friendship that you once enjoyed lies beneath the ashes of bitterness.
Just as physical food offers you vitality, God’s Word is our source of spiritual nutrition, offering both strength and empowerment. But there’s more–the good news for you dieters is that you can eat as much scripture as you want. In fact, the more you eat, the better, for whenever unbiblical attitudes and behaviors are replaced with godly attitudes from the Word, they yield love and kindness. These, in turn, will give you the desire to reach out in love to your neighbors.
The same book that commands us to be hospitable can change our hearts and shed wisdom on life’s tough situations. Learn to let the Bible be your daily guide, and you can continue to lose the spiritual heaviness which ensnares you. Once you’re free from your weighty burdens, you will find new freedom to share the joy of God and His word with others.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 6:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.