Hospitality. Quite a fitting topic for this time of year, right? Many of us will be the ones practicing hospitality, but some will be on the receiving end of the hospitality during Christmas. What does the Bible say about practicing hospitality? Let’s find out!
We are told to practice hospitality. But, what exactly is hospitality? The definition of hospitality is:
“The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.”
Now, when looking at the Biblical definition of “hospitality” I think Matthew 25:35-40 does a fantastic job.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or in need of clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ “
The definitions line up well. Christ calls us to show hospitality to everyone-not just the people we happen to enjoy being around. Let that sink in. Does anyone feel guilty? I do, and to go one further, I feel ashamed.
As an introvert, I do not like to be around people much. My calling from Christ, though, tells me basically to suck it up and practice living like Him. This includes entertaining strangers, people who make me uncomfortable, and my enemies. As I write this, I contemplate what that looks like. Do I have to invite people over all the time? No, certainly not, but it is a good idea to entertain in your own home, surely. Right?
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
1 Peter 4:9
This verse made me laugh out loud! It was a kick in the pants saying,’ Look Ang, do My will, do it with a joyful heart, and quit complaining.” After coming right out and saying it that way, by golly I had better do it!
Do you struggle with hospitality? I have gotten better over the years. I enjoy people coming to my home quite a bit more than I did. I enjoy having people stop by to chat and catch-up.
“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Have any of you grumbled when you see people panhandling? I have, and it makes me ashamed. In the last 6-7 years, I have given when I can. Do I believe every person has been in dire need that I have given money to? No, not at all, but who am I to judge who is in dire need? I know nothing of these people. I do know that I am called to love them though.
In Bemidji, when I am there, I usually see the same man with a sign that says: “Please help. Diabetic veteran.” This sign kills me every single time I see it. Every time I see this sign, I need to give the person something. The veteran part does not get to me as much as the diabetic part. For those of you who know me, you know my son has Type 1 diabetes. This, one day could be my son. Who would help him? Anyone?
“Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
The Bible commands us to share what we have with everyone. Plain and simple. Love your neighbor as yourself. Offer hospitality without grumbling.
How can I practice hospitality?
So, you say to yourself, “Great! I can follow God’s command and practice hospitality! But what does that mean?” How can we practice practical hospitality that reflects Christ’s love for us?
In church, we have greeters who are there to welcome us to the service. It is no coincidence that this is a form of hospitality that our church practices. How can this be applied practically, away from church? Simply by smiling, saying hello, or waving to the people that we encounter each and every day. I can not tell you how important it can be to smile at those we meet. No one ever knows the path someone else has walked, and a simple smile can turn someone’s day around!
Share a Meal
Eating together is often what we think of when we think hospitality. Sharing meals with others is a great way to connect and form a relationship with them. It allows us to relax and feel comfortable with others who we may not otherwise find a way to engage. What better way to show love than to have people over and feed them?
Host a Game Night
This is a fun suggestion! Less formal than a meal, game night is a good solution to entertaining different people and personalities. I find this suggestion to be a nice alternative to meals because you are able to focus on the people in your home, rather than worry about preparing food for a sitdown dinner.
Another great way for hospitality to be practiced is simply to look for people on the fringe. In our church, I feel that the congregation does a great job with this. People are always welcoming the new individuals and engaging them. I had a co-worker once who was great at this! She would engage everyone: kids, staff, substitutes. It is a gift for people and often comes naturally to some. For others, like me, it is a struggle but a necessary one.
Let’s join the challenge of showing hospitality to all people we encounter. As you can see, it is more than inviting everyone into your home for a meal. Greet people, show love, and let the glow of Christ shine through to reach those who may not believe.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
P.S. If anyone has no one to share a meal with for Christmas, please contact me. I would be glad to have you in my home!