Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Shunammite Woman - A Woman of Hospitality

We've been home from our delightful family trip to New York and Ontario for nearly a week. I want to share some of the highlights with you, but I still feel like I'm catching up. So I'm going to share an article I wrote a year or more ago for my series on Proverbs 31. 

The Shunammite Woman – A Woman of Hospitality

She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. Proverbs 31:18

I'll leave the light on for you.” Whether we are arriving home late or planning to visit an unfamiliar place, those few words speak of a caring person who is expecting our arrival.

In his years as a traveling preacher in Israel, Elisha met with various responses. In one town the youth mocked his baldness. But in the town of Shunem, he was always welcomed to one particular home for a meal. Since Elisha often traveled through their area this Shunammite woman asked her husband if they could build a little guest room for Elisha.

I can imagine the Shunammite's joy in preparing the room with freshly washed linens, a warm blanket, and a bowl of dried fruit. The room contained a bed, a table, a stool, and a candle; nothing lavish or fancy but comfortable and adequate. Surely Elisha appreciated the privacy of his own space to study and rest instead of sleeping in a crowded inn or camping under a tree.

Jesus warned against giving hospitality to be rewarded. (Luke 14:12-14) We gain heavenly treasure when we serve those who cannot return the favor. 

If I give hospitality for what I can get back, I'm likely to be disappointed. No one may notice the effort I made to wash the windows or try a fabulous new cheesecake recipe. The Shunammite didn't expect Elisha to return the invitation. She simply noticed a need and filled it. But God blessed her abundantly for her service. Elisha noticed her barrenness and promised she would have a son. Years later, after her son died of an illness, Elisha brought him back to life. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” (Col 3:23-24)

At least five times in the New Testament we are commanded to show hospitality. Too often I confuse hospitality with entertaining. I may think that hospitality means a lavish meal, a lovely table, and a spotless house. Nothing is wrong with any of those things, but they are not necessary for hospitality. 

Far too often my children have heard me bark orders when company is coming. In trying to impress my guests, I become impatient and frustrated. God's love may shine more brightly through smudged windows and a simple meal—at least to my own children.

Hospitality is not limited to company meals and overnight guests. Hospitality is God's love demonstrated in our home through hands of service and can be seen in various ways. Pouring love into foster, adopted, or a handicapped child. Inviting an addiction-plagued neighbor for a Bible study. Holding a sick child half the night. Sitting in the lawn overseeing the neighbor children playing in the yard. Making a meal to send to a tired mom. Preparing a snack for my hungry offspring. Putting aside my projects to make the house is tidy before my husband arrives home.

All Christians are called to be the light of the world. Our world doesn't need more interior decorators, gourmet cooks, or perfect hostesses. But the world desperately needs more women who are shining the light of the gospel of Christ from their homes. I put my light under a bushel when I'm worried that my meal isn't as good as my friend's or when I hope for recognition for my service. I hide the light of Christ when I serve out of obligation or speak unkindly to my children while scrubbing mud off the kitchen floor.

When our homes are filled with God's love we have a treasure to share with the world. 

Let's hold our light high and not allow the darkness to consume it. 

Let's open our homes and hearts to the needy around us so they can see Christ.


  1. Thanks for the reminder about "hospitality". It is something I learned from my husband's parents. They did a lot of this as they moved from PA to S.AL in 1949 and lots of people came South to visit them. My husband & I enjoyed having guests at our house and we still do at times. At age 77 it takes me twice as long to do the same thing that it use to :) We have x-prisoners who attend our church and off and on I invite one or two of them to our house for a meal. I also have our daughter & hubby and two young adult children at our house frequently for a Sun. noon meal. I agree...Hospitality is more about "people & relationships" rather then they way things are served and how clean your house is. I will be eager to hear about your trip in the coming days. Now I know why it has been a while since we received a "Home Joy's" e-mail :)

  2. Thank you Gina, I enjoyed this one to. So glad you made another post because I was wondering how you were doing. It'd been a little while since you posted. I am fighting a sinus infection myself and ears as well. Sure hope you all are well and getting ready for some winter up your way. It's still pretty hot down here in the deep south. Again thank you for sharing. Need to be more of that light, that's for sure.

  3. Thank you so much for this encouragement!!!

  4. Having grown up in the cold North, I find hospitality more of a challenge; we tend to keep to ourselves more than some cultures do. But God has brought some kind, gracious guests to my home for lunch several times over the years, and they gratefully enjoyed the simple fare set before them--which gave me abounding joy! And I so appreciate your encompassing definition of "hospitality"; it is indeed more than breakfast or a bed. It is an attitude of the heart.


I love to hear from you.


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