Hospitality is a lost art in Christian circles. Despite the priority it has in the Scriptures and the wonderful picture we paint of God as we do it, hospitality is largely ignored by the people of God. Yet it is one of the great privileges, obligations, and joys of every Christian. Christ has invited us to be guests at his table. The Lord, who made heaven and earth, is an excellent host who feeds and cares for this world (See Psalm 104). As disciples of Christ and subjects of the Kingdom of God we are to imitate Christ by doing the same. Our tables are to be surrounded by guests. We are to wash the feet of the saints, which is a picture of hospitality. We are to entertain strangers. Paul says we are to be given to hospitality (Romans 12:13). The word “given” means to pursue with all our heart. Hospitality is an essential part of our love for Christ and His church and our witness to the world. I want to take this week after Christmas to encourage you to practice hospitality. Below are a few verses, which provide the Scriptural foundation for hospitality. We begin with what God has done for us in Christ and then move on the specific commands of Scripture. Later in the week I will post some principles of hospitality.
Matthew 22: 1-14 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ‘ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Obviously, this is about the offer of salvation. But the picture is one of a feast. In other words, the Lord spreads a table for us. Other Scriptures says the same thing. In Isaiah 55 it says,
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.”
Amos 9 as well as other Old Testament prophecies contain the same ideas. We imitate God first by preaching the gospel and supporting those who preach the gospel, that is the church. But a secondary way we do this is by physically providing for those around us, including showing hospitality.
Here are some verses about hospitality in the New Testament.
Romans 12:9-13 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
I Peter 4:9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.
Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.
I Timothy 5:9-10 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.
I Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach.
All Christians are required to show hospitality, but pastors and elders need to be at the forefront of hospitality.
Our hospitality begins when we see how kind God has been to us in providing for our physical needs and sending His Son to deliver us from our sins that we might have a place at His table. When this truth takes root in our hearts and lives hospitality will be natural.