There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. They honored us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.
- Acts 28:7-10
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
- Hebrews 13:1-2
To place the first Scripture into context, Paul had just survived a shipwreck onto the island of Malta and then was bitten by a viper yet had no ill effects from the snake bite. The Maltese natives showed him hospitality.
Let’s just get the title connected with the song and get that over with.
I hope you do not mind, but I would like to tell you about my wife’s greatest “super” power. She would cringe to think I called it a “super” power, because I once complained that she did not have to learn everyone’s birthday, and she did not have to keep everyone’s birthday in the ready access portion of her mind. She retorted, “If you cared about someone, would you not remember their name and their birthday?”
Okay, she had a point, but I will have a new person show up to Sunday school class. As the teacher, I feel obligated to know their name by the end of the first class. I write it down, and then I refer to my notes the next week to refresh my memory, but my wife, after speaking to them for five minutes will know their full name, their children’s names, and the birthday of the person. And five years later when we see them again, I will wonder why the person looks familiar (if I am that lucky) and my wife will still remember family names and birthdays, from a five-minute chance meeting five years before. If you don’t believe me, ask her, the next, or first time, you see her, what her best friend’s name and birthday are from the third grade, over 60 years ago. She remembers. She might not remember what we had for supper last night. In fact, she asked me two hours after we had eaten whether we had supper or not, but she remembers the birthday of her best friend in third grade.
I watched an old episode on Dinner Conversations (season 2, I think) where Mark Lowry and Andrew Grier interviewed both Will and Gigi Graham. Gigi is Billy and Ruth Graham’s first child. She hates being called the oldest and much prefers being called the one that has been loved the longest. Will Graham is the grandson of Billy Graham, son of Franklin Graham, in the middle of the grandchildren. They talked, in separate interviews about how Billy Graham wanted to get to know other people, deeply.
Will Graham talked about how Billy Graham’s favorite television show was Larry King Live, because Billy Graham wanted to know details about the guests on the show. If he ever had the opportunity of meeting these celebrities, he wanted to know what they were like, their interests, and maybe their hang-ups. He would also know how to get the conversation started, and how to keep the conversation moving. He liked the way Larry King brought out that kind of information, but he was using the information to form a level of loving and caring for a person Graham had never met.
Gigi Graham talked about how her father would enter a room and several people would want their face time with the evangelist. He would be polite and give them his undivided attention, but in moments between these encounters, he scanned the room and looked for the wallflower that was leaning against a wall, making no overt moves toward conversation with anyone. Once he got a moment to initiate a conversation on his own, he sought out the person he had identified and got to know them personally. Gigi did not say what specific questions he would ask, but knowing someone just like Rev. Graham, I am sure it included their full name, names of their children, and their birthday.
My wife learned in researching temperament type that Billy Graham had the same temperament as my wife has, an ENFJ. We are each born with a specific temperament type although some researchers think that the introvert versus extrovert difference can be developed. From my experience, I disagree about the preference, but behavior can compensate. An ENFJ means Extrovert, INtuitive (creating a personal value system based on the possibilities opposed to the here and now), Feeling (value system based on feelings versus logic) and Judging (able to decide quickly with little information opposed to preferring not to decide because there is always the chance of more information). All these are preferences, your behavior could be something against your preferences, out of the comfort zone. I taught classes for many years, enjoying my time in front of the class, but I am an introvert, going against the grain of my temperament preferences. Otherwise, I would be just like my wife.
What I am saying is that Billy Graham and my wife were uniquely created to feel extremely comfortable at loving and caring for other people. But then the love of God was in their hearts and it became an overpowering compulsion to do so. Yet, all of us should take a lesson from them.
My wife’s question is a good one, “If you cared about someone, would you not remember their name and their birthday?” It sounds trivial, but we could start there.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.