If you are an only child, you had to learn the hard way, once you went to school. For those of us with the blessing of siblings, it’s a lesson learned whether we wanted to or not.
What may come naturally to some of us, is not necessarily the case for others. Sharing is definitely not a trait that comes with the fallen nature. I’m actually the first to admit, I’m not a good sharer. My husband, on the other hand, held lightly to the things of this world and was a generous giver. Maybe my spoiled baby-of-the-family tendencies have been hard to lose for me. It’s no excuse, though, but it does make Paul’s words to the church in Rome a bit tough for me today, but I’m willing to share my pain:
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.*
Why would Paul have to teach such rudimentary things to these new believers? I think it’s because sharing is a lost art in the world, then and now. How easy it is to hold on, to let someone else step up, to wait until you have more to offer.
Do you realize that not sharing takes more energy than sharing? To hold back is an act of the will — a conscious decision to withhold, that is made between me and myself. I would never tell the person in need, “I’m choosing not to help you today.” How ludicrous! No, we might give an outward excuse, but the real reason and decision is done in secret, or at least we think it is.
Sharing, on the other hand, is done out of motives so opposite of selfishness. It’s done with an understanding that what we have in the first place is not ours at all, but his. It’s done because we’ve received so much from Christ through his sacrificial act on our behalf. He gave so much, what can I do but give to others?
Yet, Paul did have to say it to the believers. He did, because we are not perfect. We’re still working out our salvation in fear and trembling, because there’s a war still waging between the natural man I’ve grown comfortable with and the spiritual man, who desires to do good, yet can’t but by the grace of God. It’s another post-it-note reminder I need to carry around with me to say: Jesus first, others second, myself last.
While helping those in need could be done without too much trouble, Paul wants us to go even further and practice hospitality. As an introvert, it’s one thing to help someone in need, it’s completely another to host someone in my home. I have to do my Martha bit and clean and cook and have everything perfect — right?
No, sorry. Wrong.
Life in the Middle East put hospitality to the test for me, as I was competing with the pros, but thankfully I lived with a man who knew his Bible better than his own culture and nipped that cultural norm in the proverbial bud. Thank you, Jesus!
I learned I didn’t have to compete with their cooking, having them over because they had us over, keeping my house in perfect order — no, I just had to open my home and welcome them in. What we ate was insignificant. What we said and how we listened was what mattered.
How are you doing with your sharing these days? Still staying in the safe zone or have you gone all in by opening your home in hospitality?
Don’t forget the saying: “Open home, open heart.” When we open our homes, their hearts are open to the One who stands at their door and knocks.
Grace and Peace
*Romans 12:13 (NIV).