One of the greatest blessings of Christianity is responding to the call to share your life, and your possessions, with others. On both notes, it’s also exciting that my wife and I completed the transition into our first home from a 600 sq. ft., one-bedroom apartment not even two weeks ago. Yet it’s hardly just because we’re now home-owners, have more space, and can park our cars in a garage… That’s all wonderful, but it’s especially because Lord-willing at some point we’ll begin to bring others within these walls, believers and unbelievers, for food, fellowship, and fun. The Bible calls those three “Fs” hospitality.
This is a ministry that I pray our millennial generation will embrace to its fullest. I think it’s a travesty that there are some that don’t. Really, this isn’t just for senior saints. I don’t say that to be dogmatic; I say it because the Bible is chock full of both examples of hospitality being practiced and commands to practice it. Don’t take my word for it though. Here are just a few verses from God’s word.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
I Peter 4:9
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
These Scripture verses don’t beat around the bush. Hebrews clearly tells us to be hospitable to strangers. That means people you don’t know, saints or sinners (unbelievers). The additional reality about angels is perhaps debatable at this time, but the point still stands. Peter admonishes us to be hospitable, and have a joyful attitude doing it. And, you could read the Romans verse as “contribute to the needs of the saints (believers) by being hospitable”.
God, being hospitable by welcoming us into His family and eventual kingdom, is of course our ultimate example, but one in II Kings provides another excellent illustration.
II Kings 4:8-10
8 One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food. 9 And she said to her husband, “Behold now, I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way. 10 Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.” (emphasis added)
Elisha, the prophet who succeeded Elijah, enjoyed the gracious hospitality of a woman from Shunem. We don’t know her name; it doesn’t matter. This child of God was stirred by God to serve a man that didn’t earn this treatment, but it was in her heart to do so! God gives to us so we are able to give to others. Hospitality is just like grace; it isn’t earned. It’s that simple.
God commands believers to show hospitality. He didn’t save us so we would continue the isolated and individualistic lifestyle that so many in the western hemisphere (the U.S. especially) sadly cling to. The church, God’s people, must endeavor to share their homes, food, and spiritual wisdom, with others. While certainly we must choose to obey, the Lord no less holds us accountable for whether we choose to be hospitable, or choose to live life apart from those we are actually united to because of Jesus Christ.
I’ve personally benefited so much from the loving hospitality of brothers and sisters. Building real relationships, sharing spiritual struggles, enjoying food which God has provided, laughing with one another… the potential gains are limitless!
If you’re reading and have yet to consider inviting others into your home, or taking others up on their invitations, I ask why? What is holding you back? How do you react to the verses above? Do you think you aren’t missing out? I would affirm that you are.
If you’re reading and have shared your home with many, what blessings have you received as a result? Does anything stand out as having been bountifully special? In particular, I loved a few months ago when we shared our apartment with three other couples. Pizza was ordered (food), people were huddled around our two card tables and sharing about life (fellowship), and we played a round of the western-themed card game Bang! (fun). Hmm, doesn’t that sound familiar?
My goal here is to encourage you to share your life, and what you have, with others. I promise you won’t regret it.