My coon hunting buddy Barry Bishop passed along a story the other day about a long line of people who had gathered early one morning outside a grocery store waiting for it open.
A young man came rushing from the parking lot and tried to cut to the front of the line, but an old lady tore into him with her umbrella, chasing him back to his car.
Not to be deterred, the young man tried again, but an old geyser bashed him over the head with his cane.
As he approached the third time, he said, “If you don’t let me unlock the door, you’ll never get in there.”
Barry comes up with some good ones, and, while he gave us a good laugh with that old joke, he also provided us a good lesson. Sometimes, in our rush to judgment, we reach wrong conclusions about people. Sometimes, we might feel like all the character traits the Bible holds dear seem to be in short supply nowadays.
I’m glad we still have lots of people who shine the light of Christ through their behavior. The Bible tells us in Titus 1:7 that one of the key characteristics of good men is that they’re given to hospitality.
Most of us learned hospitality by watching the previous generation of people who absolutely loved to see company coming, whether it was a neighbor up the road or a relative from another state. The first thing our parents and grandparents did when company dropped in was to make sure they were well fed. The first question always involved food. Depending on the time of day, they’d ask if their visitor had had breakfast, dinner or supper. If there was even a hint of hesitancy, they’d be treated to a feast.
I love hospitable people. If you read your Bible very much, you’ll find that many of the men and women were wholly given to hospitality. Abraham would pitch his tent in such a way that he could see any travelers coming. He’d sit out in the evening and watch for them. If they showed up, he’d direct his servants to butcher and prepare an entire beef to feed them.
Strangely, what got me thinking about hospitality was a herd of cattle that grazes in a pasture along one of my favorite jogging routes. I’ve never seen such a friendly bunch. They come just as quickly as they can to the fence to offer their bovine greetings when I pass by. I can’t help but moo back from time to time. Then, there’s the horse that almost never fails to lift his head and offer a greeting. That horse loves seeing company coming.
I was thinking how wonderful the world would be if people were to live up to the biblical call on their lives and be even half as friendly as those cows and that horse.
I know that most people in our part of the country are hospitable. But, I’m also sadly aware that there are those who would be more prone to swat us with their umbrellas or canes than to flash a friendly smile or offer a warm word of welcome.
If those sorts would take a jog with me, I could show them some happy cows and a big lug of a horse that could show them what hospitality means.
Roger Alford is pastor of South Fork Baptist Church. Reach him at 502-514-6857 or by writing to him at P.O. Box 673, Owenton, Ky. 40359.