Hospitality, as we’ve learned this year, is an essential aspect of generosity. We looked at opening our homes and other spaces not only to our friends, but also to those who are different from us. But here’s a sad fact: We can open our homes without opening our lives. We can put on a happy face, decorate beautifully, and entertain graciously without ever letting people into our personal space. We can have inhospitable hearts.

I enjoy being in homes where they say, “Get whatever you want out of the fridge,” and they don’t bother to say, “Sorry I didn’t get the upstairs bathroom cleaned.” In such homes, I feel welcomed into their lives, into the space where they really live, not just into their square footage. And if their teenager left his clothes on the upstairs, uncleaned bathroom floor? Well, then I know we have something in common.

When we practice generosity of relationship, we break into our own personal space to offer understanding and authenticity. It’s a hospitality of the heart.

Jesus did it. He allowed us to enter His personal space and intimate relationships.

John 14:5-21.

Before Jesus came to earth, He existed in a beautiful, complete relationship with God the Father. He came so we could participate in that relationship.

First He says,

No one comes to the Father except through me.  –John 14:6


Anyone who has seen he has seen the Father. … Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?  –John 14:9-10

Father + Son

Then He says,

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  –John 14:20

Father + Son + “you”

See how we’ve been added to that existing relationship?

My son has a special gift. He can sense a hug taking place anywhere in the house, and when he does, he comes running to join it. When he was little, he would duck his head and worm his way to the inside of the hug. Now that he’s older (and taller than me), he wraps his arms around the outside of whoever is hugging without him.

It’s like the Father,
Son, & Holy Spirit are
in a permanent hug.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (also mentioned in John 14) have enjoyed an intimate relationship for eternity—like they are in a permanent hug. With our salvation, Jesus now invites us into the private space He shares exclusively with the Father and Spirit. Our adoption as sons gives us all the privileges of intimacy that formerly belonged exclusively to Him. We join the hug.

After you reflect for a minute on the perma-hug to which we now belong, let’s turn that generosity toward our earthly relationships.

4 Ways to be Generous in Our Relationships

What does it take to have a hospitable heart?

  1. Generous with forgiveness

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  –Colossians 3:13

We break down barriers between us when we chose to forgive rather than holding on to offenses. Forgiveness generously unburdens people’s hearts…and our own hearts become lighter as well.

  1. Generous with the benefit of the doubt

“Whatever is true, whatever
is noble, whatever is right
…think about these things.”
-Philippians 4:10

My personality tends to assume the worst and most negative. Such judgmentalness distances me from people who need God’s love. I’ve tried to train myself to give people the benefit of the doubt, to believe their intentions are good until proven otherwise. Paul urges us to think about the true, noble, and pure things (Philippians 4:10)—a principle we can apply to our thoughts about other people. (This post I wrote for Pastor’s Wives digs into our thoughts about others, especially spouses.)

  1. Generous with love

The second [most important] commandment is this: “love your neighbor as yourself.”  –Mark 12:31

We instinctively prioritize ourselves over others and our tribe over other tribes. When we love others as quickly and generously as we love our own, they experience not just our love, but God’s love flowing through us. We lose us-them distinctions and instead embrace our identity in God’s creation.

  1. Generous with personal “fails”

We all have things we do well, and we naturally highlight those things publicly. (I’m thinking of you, Instagram!) When we let people past our self-imposed roadblocks and into real relationship, they will see our failures as well as our successes. I’m not big on publicizing my #momfail to everyone (because I think we sometimes overshoot and glorify or celebrate our failures), but I try to confess my failures to my close friends. And especially, I try to identify with others when they share their failures.

“At the connection of two people’s vulnerability, a great friendship can be birthed.” –Lisa Terkeurst

We’re drawn to choose what’s
best for the other person.

Generosity of relationship breaks into our personal space for His glory. It draws us to choose what’s best for the other person, even if that means revealing our own vulnerabilities. It’s a hospitality of the heart. Such generosity may feel risky or scary, much like opening our wallets to a homeless person, but we can do it because it’s been done for us.

I’m so glad God refreshes us when we generously pour our hearts into relationships.

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.Proverbs 11:25

We may let people step into our homes, but do we let them step into our personal lives? On #generosity of relationship—a hospitality of the heart. #NotAboutMe via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

Generosity of relationship often reaps big rewards. Can you share a time when you opened your heart to another person and were blessed by it? I would LOVE to read many stories in the comments about God’s faithfulness even when the risk feels huge.

Have something else to contribute to the conversation? I always enjoy hearing from you!


This leadership article will give you ten more ways to demonstrate generosity in relationships, especially at work: 10 Habits to Help You Become a More Generous Leader.


2 thoughts on “Generosity Lets People In

  1. I, too, love when I’m at people’s house and they don’t make excuses for why its out of order or unclean because 1) I can relate and 2) I feel valued for the relationship we share rather than being second to how the place makes the host feel. As always, great message! Even though you’ve challenged me to be generous with giving others the benefit of the doubt 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can look in my refrigerator any time, Mary.
      On the hosting side, there’s a fine line between “I’m cleaning so they don’t have to deal with my messes” and “I’m cleaning because I don’t want them to see my messes.” I haven’t yet figured out how to stay permanently on the right side of that line.


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