"Invite someone to my place for a meal? Oh, you see, I couldn't, because.... "And there usually follows one or a combination of often used reasons, such as: "I can't afford it." "My place doesn't lend itself to entertaining." "I can't cook." "I don't feel up to it." Too bad. Some of the most enjoyable and memorable person-to-person experiences take place around the sharing of food. But it really isn't the food itself that counts. I can recall with every bit as much pleasure sharing a pot of beans around a campfire as I can recall dining in various plush restaurants. The smoky-tasting beans served on a limp paper plate were as satisfying as roast duckling on the finest china. Why? Because of the company. And the conversation. Proverbs 15:17 expresses it this way: "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred." What counts is love — true outgoing concern. That is the most important ingredient in a social occasion. All other factors are merely trimmings.
A widow's example
I for one will be forever glad that a remarkable widow in God's Church knew and practiced this principle. She died years ago, but scores of people, now scattered all around the world, who at some time or another ate at her table, whose lives she touched, will recognize the person to whom I am referring. If anyone ever had an excuse for not inviting others to eat with her, this woman did. As a widow living off government assistance, her means were quite limited. She made no secret that she shopped in the thrift and secondhand stores. The mismatched furniture in her tiny apartment, the dishes her guests ate from — for all I know, most of it came from such sources. But that didn't matter. Love was present, and that's what counted. In addition, though, it seemed that there was always an abundance of food at her place. It was there whether she had to haul it herself (she had no car) or whether it came as a result of the many potluck meals that never would have taken place had she not gotten the ball rolling and provided the location for them to happen.
Bringing people together
In the latter months of her life, this woman's face became severely deformed from cancer of the mouth. The laughter that had always been so generous was now pained. Only with difficulty could she converse. Her energy waned and she had to lie down much of the time. But that didn't stop her from doing what she did so well: She continued to bring people together to have potlucks at her place, though she herself had to recline and suffer in silence, not able to fully participate. She brought people together. Food happened to be present at the same time. It's a great combination. Jesus talked about such occasions in His coming Kingdom (Luke 12:37, 22:29-30, Revelation 19:9). This widow served that way. Had she not, many who presently enjoy friendships made at her table would be the poorer. I learned a great lesson from her. Invite people over to share food? No need to worry about the furniture."' Or the carpet. Or the kind of food. Or any other physical factors. If love is present, everything else is secondary.