When I was in the 7th grade, my youth pastor made our entire youth group take a Spiritual Gifts Test (shout-out to all the church kids who did this every year at summer camp!). 16 and a half years of school later, and I can still say that test was one of the most important and influential that I have ever taken.
I like to think that I know myself pretty well. I can remember going question by question through that test and thinking to myself, “I know exactly what this is going to tell me.” See, I’m still very similar to my 7th grade self (minus the braces—thank you Jesus). I was and am still an encourager. I love to cheer people on and lift people up. Something about seeing someone push through and overcome an obstacle encourages me, and naturally overflows from me to others. And I knew this about myself even in my middle school years. All that to say that I could have checked the “Encouragement” box the last page of my test before my pastor even handed it to me, and I was right. My test reiterated that encouragement was indeed one of my spiritual gifts. But my test revealed another gift as well; hospitality.
I can vividly remember being confused when I saw that word in my results. Hospitality? Does that even count? Is that really a spiritual gift? I felt cheated…like my answers lead to a cop-out answer (I wanted something awesome like prophecy, ya feel me?). But I was curious, so I read the description listed under the “spiritual gift” that I was being told I possessed.
Hospitality: (Serving Gift) - The special ability God gives to some to provide an open home and warm welcome to those in need of food, lodging, and fellowship. It involves a readiness to invite strangers to your home (or church) for the sake of the Gospel.
Listed with the definition was 1 Peter 4:9-10.
“9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
And there it was. Biblical evidence that the instinct God had given me to warmly embrace and welcome people was actually a gift He saw fit to bestow on me in an effort to grow His kingdom. I remember being shocked but so thankful that I had been lucky enough to have been given a gift of such practicality. Something I could put into practice day in and day out. Reading that description made me realize that hospitality is more than being willing to host a Bible study in your home or offering to be a host home for a Disciple Now weekend once a year. Hospitality is a spiritual gift on mission. Sure, possessing the gift of hospitality means that I more than likely would be thrilled to host Bible study at my house and would probably be the first on the list for DNow weekend…but what is fueling these actions?
What’s my motivation?
Read the description again. The special ability God gives to some to provide an open home and warm welcome to those in need of food, lodging, and fellowship. It involves a readiness to invite strangers to your home (or church) for the sake of the Gospel.
Did you catch that last line? “For the sake of the Gospel.”
My welcoming spirit and natural desire to see people find a place of comfort and security shouldn’t be there because of a need to be the hostess with the mostest. It should be fueled directly by my passion to act out the Gospel in the lives of others. It should be my way of living out 1 Peter 4:10, by being a faithful steward of God’s grace. Ultimately, my small acts of hospitality are just tiny building blocks being used to further and build up the Kingdom of God. And what more of a gift could I ask for than to be apart of His Kingdom work?