By Wayne Braudrick

“One day Elisha went to Shunem. A prominent woman who lived there persuaded him to eat some food. So whenever he passed by, he stopped there to eat. Then she said to her husband, “I know that the one who often passes by here is a holy man of God, so let’s make a small room upstairs and put a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp there for him. Whenever he comes, he can stay there.”
(2 Kings 4:8-10 HCSB)

We were discussing the amazing woman of Shunem and her persistent hospitality. The talk turned to how important hospitality is for our souls and for those whom we bless when we are hospitable. As the conversation continued, we began to think through the blockades to hospitable living. That reminded my sweetheart of a passage she read years ago in Rachel Crabb’s book The Personal Touch:

“Hospitality is … an other-centered engagement with people that comes as naturally as breathing to [the one trusting God] and … it’s goal should be to encourage others. … Giving encouragement is more important than many of us often realize. What we call psychological problems are, in most cases, the product of painful, self-centered relationships. People have been hurt, and they spend most of their energy seeing to it that they don’t get hurt again. Nothing breaks into that cycle … quite like loving encouragement.” – Larry Crabb and Rachel Crabb, The Personal Touch”

In response to that great insight, one of my friends said, “The Lord has shown me over the years how I built a tower of self-protection to which I habitually retreat when interactions with others disappoint me. I have to struggle to turn away from this response and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen me to engage in love.”

This friend fights that good fight beautifully, shining in hospitality like the Shunammite. Recognizing his struggle allows him to take the selfish/fearful thought captive and persist in hospitality instead.

What thoughts do we need to capture? What keeps you and me from giving of ourselves in hospitable love?

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