“He said, ‘Come in, blessed of Yahweh. To what end do you stand outside? I have tidied up the house and a place for the camels.’ And the man went into the house and unharnessed the camels. He gave straw and fodder to the camels and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him.”
In light of the verses that precede these verses, one needs to ask the motivation behind this family’s generosity. Certainly brother Laban’s character we know and it seems that Laban has taken the role of speaking for the family. His father, being Abraham’s nephew, would likely have been fairly old and perhaps, Laban being the rightful heir, was running the activities of his father’s house at this point. We are not told for sure, but he takes charge of the situation. The needs of Eliezer and his men are met, as well as the needs of their mounts, which means that Laban’s household is certainly not a modest one, and this wealthy visitor is brought in. There seems no question that Laban wants to see what he might get out of this deal. Sadly, that seems to motivate his hospitality.
As Christians, we are commended to show hospitality to others, especially to those believers who are traveling to do the Lord’s work (3 John 5-8). Yet, we too should examine our hearts to discern what our motivation is for being hospitable to those in our midst. Are we hoping for money having done so? Are we hoping that our expenses will be recouped — if we have our expenses recouped as a matter of course, we are offering a lodging service, not generously offering hospitality. Are we seeking the praise of others? Jesus reminds us that if we act well for the purpose of the praise of men, then that is all the praise we will ever receive (Matthew 6:2-4). Surely we cannot hope to earn merit in God’s eyes through hospitality because those things that we have, were given to us by God in the first place and thus are not truly our own. We are simply rightly stewarding God’s possessions when we offer hospitality.
Instead of seeking our own interests, let us set as our motivation for hospitality the glory of God. It is for His praise that we host and it is by His grace that we can gratefully receive the hospitality of others. It is for His glory that we may serve the needs of those whom God places in our midst. When we take our own motivations out of the equation, grace can be offered and received to the praise of our God and King. So long as we place our own desires into the mix, as does Laban, the name of man is only ever lifted up, and that is not hospitality.
Posted on October 08, 2012, in Expositions and tagged Christian Hospitality, Genesis 24, Grace, Hospitable, hospitality, Laban, Motivation, Praise, What is our Motivation?, What is Your Motivation?. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
I agree with your post. I do wonder though, how we can ever truly take our motivation out of the equation. I believe humans are capable of sacrifice and unconditional love. I just do not know how we can know that our own interests don’t fuel our hospitality.
This isn’t saying that we have to know this to do our best to glorify God with our actions. I’m just saying that for myself, I think that I benefit greatly by acts of kindness in this world and I know this is a factor in my behavior. I do not like to admit this, but it is the truth for me.
I think that you are right. Because we are fallen, we don’t tend to take our own interests entirely out of the equation, no matter how hard we try. And sometimes part of the motivation is just that good feeling we get when we know we have blessed another. The key, I believe, is in being aware of our interests and our motivations. Sometimes that simple awareness is half of the battle. I think that the more intentional we are about lifting up Christ, the more intentional we will be in taking our selfishness out of the equation as much as God allows us to. Ultimately, this is also a work of the Holy Spirit in us, for apart from His influence, we can do nothing apart from our selfish motivations. 🙂
Blessings and thanks for the thoughts,