Practicing Biblical Hospitality

by Jason Hayes on Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer is a great time of year for cookouts. Our grill stays uncovered these days. We love to grill most anything: steaks, fish, or fresh vegetables from our garden. We certainly love burgers and hot dogs, as well. Those are our kids' favorites. But my grill and I have a love-hate relationship.

We decided a few years ago to invest in a quality grill because we knew we'd use it so much. I did the appropriate research to find something that would meet our needs. We often host a lot of people at our home, so the grill needed to be a decent size. Plus, I read about how different grills heat faster than others. Additionally, some grills seem to distribute heat more evenly around the entire grill. Of course, we needed it to be priced within our budget. We finally decided on a model and made the purchase. I was smitten with it.

We used that new grill for a few months, but unfortunately, after a short while, it seemed our grill forgot all about what everyone had written in the glowing reviews. Did the grill somehow know that the window for returning it had just expired? I declare, that grill actually got lazy on me! The automatic starter ceased to work; the grates began to deteriorate much sooner than I would have expected; and I even noticed that the glass over the temperature reader would fog up, which made it difficult to read.

So, here I am. The splendor of my new 6-burner propane gas grill has shriveled like a charred meat scrap. It's now a grill that requires risking life and limb merely to start it as I light a match in the vicinity of an open gas line. In addition, it's entirely possible that everything I grill could collapse through the grates that I'm too cheap to replace. And I'm just guessing on the temperature of meat these days.

Get Your Grill Ready


Despite all these factors, I've learned to compensate, and we still use the grill frequently. There's one principle, however, that's key in having success in using the grill often: preparation.

I've learned the hard way over the years. For example, we always keep an extra gas tank around. This is because of the time our life group gathered at our home, and I served medium rare burgers to everyone. I knew the amount of time that they needed to be cooked, and they'd been on the grill long enough. What I didn't realize was that the gas had run out, and the burners had stopped working in the final minutes of the cooking time.

Fortunately, we caught it before they were served. We were all safe ... and really hungry. We now try to have extra food, lighters, gas, and plastic ware. We also have the pizza man on speed dial. Now, let's be honest. This doesn't instantly position us among the world's elite of cookout hosts, does it? Having extra stuff around in case of a surprise is common practice. People usually want to be prepared.

Get Your Heart Ready


But, here's what I've noticed in my own life: I'm at risk of allowing my preparations to become one-dimensional when it comes to hosting people. I can spend so much time on physical preparations, like the grill and food, that I often ignore preparing my heart for the time I'll have with those I'm hosting.

Do you ever do this? If so, let me offer a word of advice: Stop. When we really think about it, we have more to offer than a burger or steak. Don't get me wrong. Food is a great addition to gatherings, but biblical hospitality also has an edification focus. It's intended to unify and strengthen. It may come in the form of a compliment, a prayer, a condolence, or a Scripture passage. It might impact the mood you set for your gathering, the topics that you discuss, or even the activities that you plan.

Consider whom you're hosting, and prepare for how you can best serve them. I promise you'll find it beneficial. Now, go enjoy the people in your life and throw something delicious on the grill!

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This article is courtesy of HomeLife Magazine.

Jason Hayes, M.Div., and his wife, Carrie, have three sons. Jason is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church in Knoxville, Tenn. He's also the author of Blemished and Follow Me. Learn more at shorelineknox.com.

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