My daughter had a birthday party 5 weeks ago. We had Minnie Mouse confetti scattered around the kitchen island where the food was. It was super cute. However, it’s been 5 weeks and I’m still finding a shiny heart confetti piece here and a Minnie Mouse circle wedged there. It’s not as cute now.
We all know kindness matters. Christians and Non-Christians alike boast felt-letter boards and cute posters telling us to “throw kindness around like confetti.” Isn’t kindness enough? Is there really a difference in confetti kindness and biblical hospitality? General kindness to people is a no-brainer to most of humanity - or so we think. I’m most kind when I’m in a good mood, with a good friend, or want to feel good about myself. Kindness is often a one-off action. I was kind when…I held the door open, helped the older lady, offered a cup of water to the landscaper on a really hot day, bought my friend’s coffee, etc. Kindness is like confetti; in the moment everyone loves it and it brightens up a space. But it’s effects are temporary. Just as my daughter’s party confetti is not as lovely today as it was at the party, kindness loses its impact after a little while.
Maybe it’s just me but someone can be kind to me, but its effect vanishes when other factors step in. My kid is whiny; my article gets rejected. When someone throws a judging stare at me in the store while my kid melts down, I’m not likely to think “well at least that stranger held the door open for me at the gas station yesterday.” It isn’t that kindness doesn’t matter. Kindness definitely matters!!! However, kind acts are temporary one-off actions. Biblical hospitality is investing that confetti-like kindness and making it a habit or practice.
I don’t know much about investments or risk analysis. Stocks, mutual funds, rate of return, IRA, bonds…all just words to me. That’s why I have a financial guy who handles my investments (thanks Frank!) and a husband who talks with my financial guy. I’m all for being an independent woman, but I also love that I can trust these fellas to handle this stuff. One thing I do know about investments however is that it takes time for the investment to mature. I can’t give Frank $500 to invest for me today and then expect to have a million dollars when I email him next week. Investments take time. Hospitality requires investment.
Luke 10 contains the parable of the Good Samaritan. If you’re not familiar with it, Jesus is telling the religious leaders to love their neighbors. They said, “Who is my neighbor?” Realistically, they were trying to get out of having to be kind to most people. Anyway, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man is beaten by robbers and left on the side of the road. A priest walks by and ignores him. No kindness or hospitality. A Levite, another religious leader, walks by and ignores the injured man. No kindness or hospitality here either. Then comes the Samaritan man. Samaritans and Jews culturally didn’t get along. But in this parable, the Samaritan man lays aside their cultural differences to help bandage the beaten man. This is kindness. The Samaritan then takes the man to a hotel so he can recover, covers the costs, and says “when I return” I’ll pay you more if this isn’t enough. This is hospitality. The Samaritan man still would have shown more kindness than the religious leaders by simply stopping. The investment elevates the actions from mere kindness to hospitality.
Kindness is the initial idea and biblical hospitality is the full-developed product. Kindness says, “you’re a human too” while hospitality says, “your humanity makes you worth my effort, time and investment.” Kindness notices others. Hospitality invests in others. Kindness is wonderful and necessary! It is the first step towards carrying out the mandate to show hospitality. [Romans 12:13] I can easily be kind to someone I don’t like, because kindness is momentary.
Kindness can be faked. Hospitality requires a long-term concern that cannot be imitated.
Kindness can be missed and overlooked. Hospitality blatant and unrivaled making it difficult to ignore.
I say this based off of Jesus’ example of a life of hospitality. Look at the disciples, the Samaritan woman at the well, the crippled and Zaccheus just to name a few examples. They couldn’t miss his deep love for them. Jesus was invested in them in spite of their humanity. Jesus would have been kind just to say “hello” to the Samaritan woman. Giving a few coins to the crippled would have been extraordinary kindness for a man of Jesus’ renown. Instead, Jesus sat down with the woman, he healed the wounded, he called each individual disciple by name. These squirrely young men not deemed by society to be worthy of any religious position were called by name and invited to join Jesus’ ministry! Jesus called Zaccheus, a cheater, down from the tree by name and went to his house for a meal which, in turn, led to complete repentance. Kindness says “I notice you.” Biblical hospitality says, “I want to know you.”
In life we all want 2 main things: to be loved and to be known. A life of biblical hospitality happily offers both of these things to each individual we meet, not because of us but because of Jesus in us - the only One who can ever perfectly love and know us. So lavish kindness and spread it like confetti. But don’t let it end there. Invest the confetti and turn acts of kindness into a life practice of biblical hospitality!
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