My daughter taught me something about hospitality last week. I brought her to the gym for a kids-workout. This was her first time attending so she was a bit nervous and very excited. In preparation, she asked me questions about what they would do, if they had snacks, and of the other kids who might attend. My daughter never travels light and she packed a bag with extra clothes, water bottles, and a little pink med-kit.
The med-kit caught my eye and I asked her about it. “It’s for the kids if they get hurt,” she explained, “look.” In this toy designed for make-believe, she had prepared for every medical disaster imaginable. She presented two Band-Aids, hand sanitizer, a cough drop, and several small toys. My daughter continued to explain the significance of each item.
“What are the toys for?” I asked.
“The toys are there to cheer kids up.” She replied as a matter of fact.
She had a great time at the workout, running and jumping with the other kids, until a young girl fell and skinned her knee. My daughter instantly jumped into action. She retrieved her pink medical kit and bound for the young girl. She applied both Band-Aids, gifted a toy, and offered her patient and cough drop for good measure. Instantly the two girls were best friends. They exchanged hugs, plastic jewelry, and held hands for the rest of their time together. At the end of our time, my daughter offered medical advice on the removal of Band-Aids and they said their final goodbyes.
I was so proud of her.
She came prepared to love the little girl with a skinned knee. She anticipated a need and took the necessary steps to help. This hospitality required anticipation, anticipation empathy, and empathy compassion. No, my daughter didn’t know this girl but she knew that someone might need her and she planned accordingly.
Richard Gula wrote about this type of caring in his book titled, To Walk Together Again. He writes,
“Jesus’ command of love is tough. People throughout the ages have tried to make it work. Some people had vied for it, almost all have known the discouragement of failing to make it work. What does this love demand? Of all the attempts to bring some insight into what love demands, I have found those who explore the notion of “hospitality” to be the most helpful. The New Testament word for this kind of love which is commanded, and which is the love that reconciles, is agape. The Greek word, however, does not seem to work for most people today. Who knows what it means ‘hospitability’ works. Everyone seems to have some idea of what it means.”
Agape love is hospitality love. It is a love of anticipation, a love of compassion, and a love of empathy. Who are you anticipating today? Who needs your love in a new and compassionate way? Imagine the impact that your internal predictive compassion can have on the heart of another. I hope you can see it and plan accordingly. My daughter did and taught me how to practice agape in the doing.