Bible Ballistics: BBs #501 What About Hospitality???
Hospitality: “the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers; the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests or strangers in a warm, friendly and generous way.”
I was raised in the South by a southern mother and father, and I am grateful for the things that they taught us children in word and deed, and one of those things was the gift of hospitality. We were raised in a time when people gathered together for food and fellowship; kids’ played outside together and developed life-long friendships and camaraderie; and we had such deep and beneficial interactions and relationship that came out of those gatherings. People shared with their neighbors from the gardens that we all had, and every child knew that our behavior was being observed by others who would “tell” our parents of any errant choices. It was a time that makes me smile to this day, and yet makes me sad that most children today have no idea of a culture or community of such common care, who exercised the beauty of hospitality.
Hospitality is simply opening our hearts and homes to those whom God sends our way.
“And above all things
have fervent charity
for charity shall cover
the multitude of sins.
9 Use hospitality
one to another
10 As every man hath received the gift,
even so minister the same
one to another,
as good stewards
of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:8-10
Jesus’ followers ought to extend hospitality as we have opportunity. It may take a little effort to get started but it brings with it a joy and delight in gaining new friends to share our hearts and lives with. Occasions to share and teach the younger generation to do the same thing, and we need it so desperately—homes full of Jesus spilling over into the lives of other believers as well as those who need Jesus! The author of Hebrews calls us to “entertain strangers” (the NASB translates it “practice hospitality”) for we don’t always know whom we may be reaching out to.
“Let brotherly love continue.
2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
for thereby some have entertained
angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:1-2
So often we in the church seem to relegate everything and every activity to the “church house”, rather than taking opportunity to open our homes to others that we might grow in our relationships and intimacy with one another. I have a very dear friend, who is now with the Lord, with whom we often visited after church when I was a child—a precious, godly lady who loved me unconditionally; a light in my life that was always glad to see me, even when I wasn’t very welcome in other places (I wasn’t always what God wanted me to be!). She helped make me the woman that I am today by her open home, her open heart and her godly care and love for me. I grieved more deeply at her death than any other person I’ve lost (other than my father) because her practice of love and “hospitality” made a difference in my life from a child! I pray that I can be a difference in the lives of those God has sent to me—God calls us to it!
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober,
of good behaviour,
given to hospitality,
apt to teach;” 1 Timothy 3:2
Our leaders should be people who practice hospitality by and for an example, but it should be the practice of every believer, not only because we love Jesus, but because 1 we love people and ought to pursue every occasion that God opens for us to influence the lives of those He brings into our lives—it can be life changing for them and us, even as Paul told the Roman believers.
“Rejoicing in hope;
patient in tribulation;
continuing instant in prayer;
13 Distributing to the necessity of saints;
given to hospitality.
14 Bless them which persecute you:
bless, and curse not.
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice,
and weep with them that weep.” Romans 12:12-15
We must bring back to our churches the art of “hospitality”—we must! I am blessed to be part of a fellowship of believers who genuinely care for one another and try to practice genuine hospitality—may we lead others to pursue it! Peter reminded us (above) that we must “Use hospitality one to another without grudging” for God knows the motives in our heart as we reach out!
And in closing, just a few practical hints that might ease your hesitation that “I can’t do that, I can’t cook, clean…..!” I’m not talking about gourmet 9-course dinners; but I am saying we need to open our homes to others! If you don’t cook bake a frozen pie and invite someone over to share it with your family! Or pick up carryout and share it with someone less fortunate than you. Find an easy recipe for soup and serve it with chips and salsa—in fact if you live in OK/TX it’s perfectly acceptable to just serve chips and salsa or cheese dip!!! Ice cream and store-bought cookies is always a winner. It’s not what you serve but the fact that you are sharing your home with someone who may not have ever been invited anywhere!
I’d like to relate a testimony from my mother. When she married my father she didn’t know anything about making a “home”, as she had left home when she was 15 or 16 and never had anything to really take care of. She was welcomed by my father’s family and my aunt helped her learn to clean and cook as much by example as instruction, and while my mother never “liked housework”, she did what she learned to be important to have a good and orderly home. We never know whom we can help to learn to be a wiser homebuilder—and we all have those watching us, that we can teach by example as we share our lives and homes. Practicing hospitality as God brings others into our lives.
So go for it today—reach out and touch a life! You don’t know what God has in store for them or you!!!
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him,
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul,
and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour
40 On these two commandments
hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40