Even in the Midst of Dirty Dishes

Even in the Midst of Dirty Dishes

June 29, 2015

"Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: … whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 4:9-10,11b (ESV)

My friend Stella and her husband have been missionaries for more than 60 years, and have led countless people to Christ. At the time of my visit, she was in her eighties and still serving. Another friend, Sheli, and I were honored to stay with her for a week to minister alongside her.

We traveled 30 hours to her home in Takamatsu, Japan, and arrived late in the evening. Stella ushered us into her kitchen for a hearty meal, then prayed for us before we all went to bed. When the sun was barely up the next morning, we feasted on an enormous breakfast in her tiny kitchen.

The kitchen was crowded, her appliances old and worn, dishes piled high in the sink from her lavish food preparation — yet the atmosphere felt entirely like home. As she and her husband read Scripture and encouraged us, tears welled in my eyes, the love of Christ enveloped us; it overwhelmed me.

Immediately after breakfast, Stella began cooking again; this time for 100 women. She’d rented a banquet hall and invited friends, telling them an American would be speaking and there would be food. We cooked and set up tables for the luncheon, and then I was ushered to the front to speak. Her objective in hosting the event was to build relationships in hopes that those who came for lunch would come back again for church on Sunday. Many did!

While driving home after lunch, she told me she’d invited a large group to the house for dinner that night. I couldn’t imagine how we could clean up the mess we’d left behind and simultaneously prepare another meal. How would we get it all done? She didn’t seem concerned. Instead, she was fueled by the energy of what the Lord had done at the luncheon.

There have been times I’ve worried more about my kitchen than how I could serve others. I’d fret over the size and messiness. But I was inspired as I watched this woman who had no concerns about the dirty pots in her sink. Stella didn’t let an un-swept floor keep her from ministering. She set the table beautifully and welcomed her guests. She and her husband prayed and read Scripture. Hearts melted.

Years have passed since that week in Japan and I think of my friend Stella whenever I have company. Over the course of her life, she has ministered to thousands in her home, and many have come to know Jesus there. Her ministry had nothing to do with a spotless kitchen. In fact, her kitchen was a mess. But whenever God opened a window of opportunity, she seized it.

I want my service to be like Stella’s. Hers is like that described by the apostle Peter in today’s key verse, grounded "by the strength that God supplies." I want to long for people to know Jesus more than I long for the perfect kitchen.

God cares more about what’s happening among the people in our kitchen than He cares about the state of it. My missionary friend taught me that it is possible to share God’s love, demonstrate His character and offer hospitality — even in the midst of dirty dishes.

Dear Lord, show me ways to serve through the resources You’ve given me. Help me care more about people than things like dirty dishes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 31:15a, "She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household." (ESV)

Proverbs 31:25-27, "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." (ESV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
The secret to making guests feel comfortable is more about the condition of your heart than the condition of your home. For tips on helping others feel refreshed, not impressed, check out Karen Ehman’s book A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others.

Visit Sharon Glasgow’s blog for more encouragement on offering hospitality in the midst of messiness.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Your kitchen is a perfect place to show hospitality. Don’t wait for it to be perfect to invite guests. God will supply the ability you need to minister in your kitchen, and He will be glorified.

Would you be willing to invite people to stay for dinner if they dropped by unannounced — even if your kitchen were a mess? Why or why not?

Can you think of a person, family or neighbor who doesn’t know Jesus yet, whom you could invite for dinner? Make a call or send a text and get it on the calendar.

© 2015 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. Amen! How so incredible this statement is tonight! since my husband, Ron Smith and I are in the process of packing to move to Jacksonville, Illinois, we still make an effort to show hospitality to those around us. No matter what someone may need, we do our absolute best to show kindness to those around us here at Eden Supportive Living Champaign during this busy time.
    Even though our current place is a mess from packing to move, we’re always willing to invite others over. We fully understand that there are just times when our friends are going through difficult times, and we have to just be there for them however we possibly can.
    My friend, Donna Houtzel is a believer; however, I don’t really know what her spiritual journey and walk with God has actually been like. Ultimately, my husband and I asked her to help us with running a couple errands earlier tonight, and we invited her to hang out for a while afterwards. She said that she’ll try to hang out with us more before we move, so I hope I can use that as an opportunity to share Jesus with her.
    “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: … whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:9-10,11b (ESV)
    Amen! what an incredible thing to reflect upon on this Sunday night! We shouldn’t be miserable when God calls us to serve those around us. We should serve others with a cheerful and joyful heart, regardless of circumstances that we may be dealing with.
    “Dear Lord, show me ways to serve through the resources You’ve given me. Help me care more about people than things like dirty dishes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”~ Sharon Glasgow
    Amen! what an incredible prayer tonight! we can ask God to help us have a heart for those around us. We should care more about those around us instead of any messes that we may have lying around our house when company comes over.
    Proverbs 31:15a, “She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household.” (ESV)
    Amen! wow! How so incredibly powerful! Although we may be worn out, we give up our own lives to care for those God has already placed in our lives.
    Proverbs 31:25-27, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” (ESV) –
    Amen! we should remember to look at what’s to come with the idea that the future is certain to God. Rather than focusing on our own concerns, we should have a heart for the people God places in our path at all times.

  2. I needed this posting!!

    So many times I get discouraged when I look at the small apartment I share with my daughter and dog…the toys (daughter’s and dog’s) covering the living room carpet…the dishes piled in the sink and dishes in the washer…the laundry in the hamper waiting to be washed. I often think to myself “how could I ever have company in this mess?” I feel bad I’m not this picture perfect mommy that can always do it all.

  3. Nancy Jones says:

    Beautiful word’s of knowledge and wisdom. Spiritual service is what we are to do.

  4. Thank you for the nudge to invite folks over.
    Hospitality … What a gift to be able to invite friends into your home.

  5. Honestly, before reading this, I really didn’t want anyone over. I need to paint. The appliances in my kitchen are older and I feel they need to be replaced. I now realize the importance I placed on material things and how things “looked.” In reality, none of that matters. God is not concerned with the outside appearance, but with a man’s heart. If God isn’t concerned about that, then neither should I. I am going to wipe the old stove off, mop the floor and get out a quick recipe to invite someone over for dinner

  6. Jocelyn says:

    Wonderful reminder and encouragement. I too “long for people to know Jesus more than I long for the perfect kitchen.”. It’s true, the enemy tried to steal opportunities for us to minister to others by feeding us lies, “your home isn’t nice enough” “your kitchen is outdated” and so on.
    Would you not invite Jesus because of these lies?
    Better yet, would these sort of worries, prevent Jesus from inviting you into his home?
    We are called to be like Christ. Jesus would certainly demonstrate His character and offer hospitality — even in the midst of dirty dishes!!
    I love today’s devotion! Thank you for sharing and motivating me to invite someone to my home.

  7. God and I had a little talk recently about this very subject. I cut my morning devotions short, saying, “Gotta clean. Company’s coming, and I don’t want them to think we live like this.”
    I sensed God’s response: “You do live like this. What happened to honesty?”
    Practice honest hospitality.

  8. Wonderful post! Too often in my adult life have I been unwilling to have friends over because I think my house is a mess. This is a fantastic reminder to care more about bringing people to God than the condition of my home. Thank you!

  9. Kristin says:

    This was so good and I needed to hear this today. Yesterday was a stressful day filled with “my house is a crazy mess” and “my yard looks awful”. I love Shirlee’s response of God’s response of “You do live like this. What happened to honesty?” Material things and perfection do not have to exist to be able to minister and spread the word of God!! Such a great devotional for this Monday!

  10. The same can be said about the condition of our hearts. It may not be cleaned up and perfectly washed clean but we can still serve and minister to others with what we have at that moment.

  11. Lord, help me to be a Mary and not a Martha!!!!!!

  12. LADIES, YOU KNOW WHAT HELPED ME IN THIS MATTER? I WAS ONCE AT A FRIEND’S HOME AND SHE WAS TELLING ME TO IGNORE THE DISHES IN HER SINK BECAUSE SHE JUST WANTED ME THERE ANYHOW. I HAVE SINCE STOLEN HER SAYING…..’IF YOU COME TO SEE ME, YOU ARE WELCOME ANYTIME; IF YOU COME TO SEE MY HOUSE, YOU HAVE TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT!!!”

  13. I struggle with this. Not the messy part as much anymore, although occasionally. I am getting a handle on that, both physically- dealing with the clutter, and mentally- allowing myself to let go of my perfectionism and recognize what clean enough really is. My main struggle is as an introvert- I am not shy, but do need personal space after a lot of socialization. This makes it difficult, sometimes, to have people over. If I know them well, it makes it easier. If my extrovert husband wants to have people over and I need to recharge, it causes conflict. I have pushed through my anxiety and managed it, but sometimes I have to be real with myself and know when I really shouldn’t. I am a better wife, mother, friend, person when I listen to my body and mind and take care of myself. Then I read this blog and wonder what’s wrong with me. Why can’t I be like this amazing woman? But I know this is not my gift. God wired me a certain way, and I know I have stepped way out of my comfort zone many many times, knowing it is what I should do. Knowing God has plans! I have entertained with a messy house- wipe down the bathroom, and we are good to go! I have stretched a meal when someone has been added to our table; facilitaed a Bible study when God really nudged me to do so; gone to many social events, where I didn’t expect to know anyone- because my husband really wanted us to. But now I feel guilty again for not being able to do more here at home. A lot to pray about.

    • CAROL MUIR says:

      Hello Wendi, do not feel guilty! Even as I read this devotion, I thought that it is not necessary to try to be like someone else, but who God created you to be, with your own gifts and talents, etc. I understand your situation completely, for I am much the same way. Sometimes we do need to stretch ourselves and other times we need to be wise and have quiet time. God enables us whatever He calls us to do. Perhaps get some good books on introversion so you will have a better understanding and acceptance of yourself. God bless you!!!

    • Rita Meiszinger says:

      Hi Wendy,

      I am the same. I love to have people around but I need that recharge time too. My husband doesn’t need that time so it sometimes causes tension. So we talk about how to strike a balance and I try to stretch as well instead of taking the easy way out because I know hospitality is so important and powerful to bless people. Thank you to Leslie for the reminder not to feel guilt and comdemnation when I’m needing to be recharged.

  14. I needed this devotion. There have been far too many times that I am worried about the condition of the house, versus the company within it. I stress myself out preparing for a party or meal, trying to make everything look perfect. However, in my heart I know I can never be perfect. Then why stress out over this?

    Also, I need to look for more opportunities to spread The Word of God. There are opportunities all around us. Often, I find myself too busy or too nervous to share. How embarassingly sinful that is of me. I am also working on finding ways to share the Lord with friends that I have of different denominations. I know if I pray, God will show me how.

  15. Wendi,
    Please don’t feel guilty. So many of us women can fall into the trap of reading the verses from Proverbs 31 and feeling like were inadequate. This is not Gods heart. You are right to take care of yourself as needed. My husband is an introvert and I recognize the importance of him needing to have some time to himself to recharge at times, as you mentioned, he is a better husband, friend, and servant of the Lord when he takes this time. It is important that you and your husband come to a mutual understanding of that and that you give yourself grace. As the opening verse stated,

    As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

    Continue to use the gifts God has given you by His grace, thank you for your obedience to going outside of your comfort zone when He calls you to. Listen also when He tells you to rest 🙂 don’t let dirty dishes keep you from serving but also don’t try to work outside of Gods grace.

    I pray against all guilt and condemnation. May you know just how precious you are in His sight and how pleased He is with you. May you rest in His peace and grace and have great joy as you serve Him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen 🙂

  16. Charlotte says:

    Good food for thought.

  17. Thanks so much for this great reminder that the ministry of hospitality should not be focused on us and our “stuff” but on having a welcoming spirit like Jesus. I was reminded and convicted that I need to come back to this ministry again. Hospitality used to be a huge part of my life but health, circumstances, and just life have distracted me from using my home as a place of ministry for Jesus. I need to repent and get back on track. I was reminded of how Jesus invited others into his life in so many situations and circumstances-often less than ideal. He used dusty roads, tight spots, small spaces, no home, and even the pain and ugliness of a cross and His death to extend an invitation to others to join Him for eternity. Is a couple of hours of hosting in my home asking too much of me? Lots to meditate and pray over.

  18. This post is so timely for me. Yesterday, my husband told me that my sister in-law and brother in-law may stay with us this weekend. In the past, I would have panicked. She keeps a neater house. I’m in a different place in my life. I survived cancer treatment last year. I hope that I’ve grown more as a Christian even prior to last year. I spent the past 20 years worrying about issues such as what my house looked like while I raised my children. Surely, I missed many opportunities to entertain other women. Now, my youngest child has just graduated from high school. I want to develop and nurture more relationships with Christian women. I will focus on that goal and not the carpet stains or the walls which need repainting. Thanks!!!

  19. What a God inspired message! Too often we worry about people judging us over the clutter of our homes (and sometimes they do), instead of the condition of our hearts. I confess my house is, most of the time, not in order and it prevents me from inviting others over–that and my furniture falling apart. This message will be tucked in my heart to remind me that outward appearances are deceiving; that it’s the heart’s appearance that matters! God bless you, Sharon! Thank you for the reminder.

  20. As a minister’s wife my house is hardly ever without other people. My home is open to all.Yesterday we fed 16 people at our house after church (5 of those are my family ) I feel overwhelmed at times with the amount of people that come and go from my house, but today I am reminded why I do it, for the God that saved me. I will continue to be doing dishes at 1am, but it is worth it.

  21. This is just what I needed!
    It’s funny.. I haven’t logged onto this site in awhile and just when I do it’s like God has gone “this message is for you Jemma!!”
    Since having my second child (she’s 3 1/2 months) I’ve been really hard on myself about the state of the house. When it’s not clean I feel like a failure. It’s so silly because with two littles it’s never clean!!
    Praying that God will release me from my high expectations and make me more hospitable

  22. Rita Meiszinger says:

    Thank you everyone for your posts. The devotional was such a great reminder to me to focus on what is truly important to God and to have the right heart attitude. But the posts helped me to think about my need to recharge after lots of hospitality, to be honest about ‘this is the way we live’ and high expectations that just aren’t realistic or helpful to hospitality. Thank you so much! We can learn so much from each other!

  23. I am hosting people today. I was so concerned knowing that everything is not in perfect order. After reading this, my prayer was that God would bring peace to me and all who enter my home. I prayed that those who come would be blessed and be a blessing. God Bless you for sharing this. It was so timely for me!

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