Probably the most overlooked character of the Christmas story is the innkeeper. He’s actually only mentioned one time, and indirectly, at that:
“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7 ESV
All we know about the innkeeper is that he turned Mary and Joseph away in their time of deepest need. I’m not sure how many inns there were in Bethlehem, but they were all full.
I wonder how things may have been different had he known that the Savior of the world was about to be born.
With how busy the little town was, he probably had little time to even look up at the couple. His head down, counting money, keeping track of it all, did he even notice that Mary was about to burst? Would it have even made a difference?
I mean, can you blame the innkeeper? It’s not like he was going to kick someone out to make room for Mary and Joseph. It’s not like they were any more important than everyone else that needed a place to stay. But how would he have known? How could he have known?
There are times in each of our lives that we have been that innkeeper. Our lives are so busy and noisy, that we overlook the very reason we are here: to love Jesus and others.
We might as well hang a sign around our neck that says, “No Vacancies.” Often our lives are so hectic we can’t even recognize when the people around us are going through their own struggles.
This time of year, the strain of busyness and chaos gives us very little time to look beyond our little circle; but let’s be honest, we’re always busy! We’re always overbooked, overwhelmed and exhausted. We’re so tightly wound that if we have to take on one more responsibility, we might just snap. Or worse, if one more person asks us to do something for them, we might just inadvertently bite their head off.
I get it. We don’t mean to, it just happens. It’s just an unintended side effect of trying to be all things to all people. If anyone should receive an award for most acts of service it would be you, the carpool mom, church choir singer, animal shelter volunteer, math tutor, Christmas shoebox packer, and soup kitchen helper.
Somehow, we manage to do it all. But what do we gain from it?
“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:3 ESV
What good are all my volunteer service hours when the ones closest to me are left by the wayside, left to figure out their struggles on their own? Because we have filled our lives with all the things that look good on paper, but our schedules are already so full, and essentially, we leave them out in the cold to bear their burdens alone.
In our effort to serve, make sure you aren’t like the innkeeper, with no room for others. You must make room in your heart and life for those that just need a place to stay for a moment. They just need a hug, a prayer, a few minutes of your tender-loving attention.
My challenge to you this week, and into the new year, is that you make space for God and make space for others, even when it’s inconvenient. The reward of giving your time to someone else is greater than you’ll know until you experience it for yourself. Don’t let your life be so full, that you miss out on the greatest blessings of all.
In closing, I want to leave you with this passage. It’s a great reminder that when we love on God’s people, we are loving on Him:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:34-40 ESV
To follow the whole series of Journey to Christmas, click here: https://jenniferjabbour.com/the-journey-to-christmas-advent-series/