Hospitality In Our Homes

Jesus, in the Word of God, commands us to love our neighbor and one another. He said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:39). In another place, he also said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:34-35). But how exactly do we love our neighbor and one another? One very concrete way, among many others, is to give and receive hospitality.

Showing hospitality means to share our homes, our family, our time, our money, and our daily bread with one another in the church and with our neighbors outside the church. In short, it means bringing people into our private lives and making ourselves available to be brought into the private lives of others, in a sacrificial and personal way. One Bible teacher expressed what hospitality gives in this way, “Through the ministry of hospitality, we provide friendship, acceptance, fellowship, refreshment, comfort, and love in one of the richest and deepest ways possible for humans to understand.”[1]

We may not realize it, but the Scriptures have a lot to say about Christians exercising hospitality. It is even commanded in the Bible. For example: “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Rom. 12:13); “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers…” (Heb. 13:1-2); “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Pet. 4:8-9).[2] These commands, in their contexts, are connected to showing love. That is why we can say that showing hospitality is one tangible way for us to display genuine Christian love.

Exercising hospitality promotes and strengthens the bonds of love within God’s household of faith. Even if you are single or don’t have room in your small home, you can still participate in and exercise hospitality. You can accept invitations to receive it and offer to bring something with you to share. You can also take a meal to someone in need. That is meaningful hospitality!

There is nothing quite like sharing a meal together while opening up our lives to one another. This becomes the perfect opportunity to learn new things about our brothers and sisters in Christ that we might not otherwise have a chance to discover during chats in passing on the Lord’s Day at church. We may find similar points of interest that lead to more time spent together in other contexts. We may learn about personal needs for prayer, family difficulties, work struggles, etc. We might also discover exciting, new endeavors, or fascinating hopes and plans. Exercising hospitality in our homes gives us unique venues within which to actively enrich our fellowship with one another. Our fellowship and unity with each other will also be strengthened at church on the Lord’s Day as a result.

Exercising hospitality also provides a good context within which to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with unbelievers around us. Invite your neighbors into your homes and lives. As you get to know them, and they you, the Lord may very well open a natural door to share the Faith with them and invite them to church over time. One good way to facilitate bearing witness to Christ through exercising hospitality is to have family devotions around the table after the meal; reading Scripture, praying for your neighbors’ needs right in front of them, and singing a Psalm or hymn. Don’t be shy!

Our God has been incredibly hospitable to us in his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He shows us hospitality by forgiving all our sins through Jesus Christ’s satisfaction made on the cross in our place to save us from eternal condemnation, which we received by faith alone and not by any of our works. He has also shown us hospitality by freely giving us all the obedience and righteousness of Christ that he performed in our place. This too we have received by faith alone. In this way, through his Son, God has so graciously welcomed us into his household, the Church!

But the riches of his warm hospitality do not end there. He also provides us with the spiritual food we need to strengthen our faith. He regularly invites us to receive from the storehouse of his bounty with the preaching of the Gospel from his Word. Then he also repeatedly invites us to his very own Table within his household, where he spreads out a feast before us to refresh our souls through communion with his Son (our Elder Brother!). As if this wasn’t enough hospitality, our generous God has also granted us a seat at the everlasting Marriage Supper of the Lamb in the coming ages where we will forever experience the riches of his hospitable kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Rev. 19:7, 9; Eph 2:7). With grateful hearts to the Lord for his overflowing liberality, may all of us at Christ Reformed Church earnestly seek to love one another and the world by heartily reflecting his lavish hospitality in each other’s homes.

 

[1] Alexander Strauch, The Hospitality Commands (Littleton, CO.: Lewis and Roth Publishers, 1993), 17.

[2] Here are a few other Scripture verses highlighting the command to exercise hospitality: Being hospitable ought to be a characteristic of ministers and elders in the congregation: “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach” (1 Tim 3:2); Widows should be evaluated by the hospitality they showed: “Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work” (1 Tim 5:9-10 ); And hospitality is commended as a faithful thing to do: “Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth” (3 John 5-8).