How We Show Hospitality
Be not forgetfully to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.Hebrews 13:2
In Genesis 18, Abraham is sitting in his tent and sees three strangers approaching. He runs to meet them, asking them to stay for a meal. He then hurries to prepare food while they wait for him. In the end, Abraham discovers that his guests are the Lord Himself and two angels. Abraham’s actions here, informed by the rest of Scripture, provide a pattern for our own practice of hospitality.
First, Christian hospitality is welcoming strangers into our homes so that we can minister to them, whether unbelievers or believers. Having friends and family into our homes is not hospitality – that is fellowship, which of course should play a major role in our lives as well. But biblically, hospitality is kindness to strangers; that is what the word means, and that is what we see God’s people doing throughout the Bible (see Gen. 19:1-3; Josh. 2:4; Ruth 2:8-10; Judges 19:20; Acts 16:15, 34). Abraham did not know who these men were when they sat down. When is the last time you invited someone you had just met or someone you didn’t really know into your home? That was the last time you practiced hospitality.
Second, Christian hospitality is sacrificial. Abraham puts more than twenty liters of flour and a whole calf into the meal – valuable commodities in the ancient Near East! Though he was a rich man, this hospitality still cost him something. Hospitality will cost us as well, whether in time, money, effort, or in some other way. Are you willing to trust God’s provision for us to obey His command to practice hospitality?
Third, Christian hospitality is inconvenient. Though it will not likely mean that we have to kill, clean, and cook a cow, hospitality will involve work, which husband, wife, and children should engage in together. It usually involves arranging schedules, planning and making a meal, keeping up conversation, cleaning up, and dying to self as we love others. Hospitality is not convenient, but it is something that God calls us to do. If that is so, we should do it willingly like Abraham, for God loves the cheerful giver. Can we practice hospitality without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9)?
Fourth, Christian hospitality brings blessing. Scripture links obedience with spiritual blessing. This is as true for hospitality as it is for other biblical commands. It blesses those who are ministered to, and it blesses those who are ministering. Hebrews 13:2 encourages us to practice hospitality by reminding us of Abraham’s experience; he entertained angels unawares! Calvin comments,
If someone will object that entertaining angels is an unusual occurrence, I have a ready answer, in the fact that we receive not only angels, but Christ himself, when we receive the poor in his name. If we do it to the least of these brethren, we have done it unto him.
Do you believe that God will bless your hospitality for eternal good?
Hospitality is not a gift that God gives to just some of His people. It is a command for every Christian – regardless of giftedness, social status, economic privilege, or attitude. When done in love to God and love to our neighbor, it is a delight to God and blessed by Him – and will bless the stranger. Practicing hospitality is the best way to develop ability and cultivate a thankful obedience to the Bible’s hospitality commands.
If you are a Christian, God has graciously brought you in to reconciled fellowship with Himself after welcoming you through the gospel of His only begotten Son. The day is coming when He will welcome you into His heavenly home, although you were a stranger and enemy. How can you show the love of Christ to strangers in your life today?