The Spiritual Discipline of Hospitality (6-5-21)
This week’s spiritual discipline falls right in line with many of the others we have already seen, in that our life in Christ is one of sacrificial living. We are not building our own kingdom but the Lord’s kingdom. What we have and what we are able to do is not ours but the Lord’s, and we are called to be good stewards of it all. So, one of the calls on our lives as Christians is to be generous with our time and stuff. This includes the area of showing hospitality to those God puts in our path.
Hospitality can be done in a number of ways. It can be going out of your way to offer up a drink to someone who is thirsty or giving someone a place to have shelter or a place to lay their head. Hospitality means we labor to keep the things God gives us clean and organized. True hospitality is not just opening your door to someone; it is preparing your home or a space for them. All of this is good stewardship. We manage the things God has entrusted to us well so we can be hospitable and God-honoring with them.
Hebrews 13:1-2 Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
In Hebrews 13:1, we are told to continue to love fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. But as we love other believers, we are to also be sure to show love and hospitality to strangers, too. Our investment can not only be in the church where we are comfortable with our blood-bought family but must address one of the main reasons God has us here on earth and on mission: to be a witness of the gospel to those who are lost in sin.
We must see these people as strangers and orphans who are desperate for the saving grace of Jesus and the eternal family of God. We are an extension of God’s love and grace, as we sacrificially make room and time for those who need it. Like many other verses, we are told we may be entertaining angels and unaware of it. This is a way of reminding us that God is with us, and all that we do is to be unto Him.
1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
We saw this happen in Genesis 18 with the appearance of angels to Abraham near the oaks of Mamre. Abraham was hospitable and was blessed with news of Isaac’s birth. If we are not hospitable to those in need, we might be denying angels and the blessings that God can grant to us through them.
In our reading in Matthew 25:34-46 this week, we heard Jesus say that when we are showing love and grace and hospitality to the downtrodden and the least of these, we are ultimately showing love to God. To love the least of people is a hard thing. Why? Because they may not smell good or value things the same way we do; they may have convictions and priorities that are very opposite of ours and could, in general, be bad stewards of their own lives that caused them to be in a hard place. It is easy to have a religious view of people that says, “I worked hard for what I have and I’m not going to throw it away on you just because you are so quick to throw your own life away.” We have to remember that we were one of “the least of these” before we were saved by Christ. We had no ability to save ourselves. We must see “the least of these” as lost in sin and desperate for Jesus, and that is where we can make a difference. We can show them Jesus in our sacrificial living and generous hospitality. This is something we do even when it is hard or when it is for someone we don’t care for. There is no better example of this than Jesus’ teaching about the good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-37.
Read it again: Luke 10:29-37.
I will give you a little background for the context of this story. After the Assyrians captured Samaria (the capital of the Northern kingdom of Israel) in 722–21 BC, they deported all the Israelites and settled the land with foreigners, who intermarried with the surviving Israelites and adhered to some form of their ancient religion (2 Kings 17–18). After the exile of the Southern kingdom in Babylon, Jews, returning to their homeland, viewed the Samaritans not only as the children of political rebels but as racial half-breeds whose religion was tainted by various unacceptable elements.
In the Jews’ eyes, the Samaritans were ceremonially unclean, they were racially impure, and they were religiously heretical; therefore, they were avoided. In fact, the Jews hated the Samaritans and the Samaritans hated the Jews, so Jesus’ use of a Samaritan as the example of a good neighbor would have been striking to His original audience.
Christ told the parable of the good Samaritan in response to a lawyer who wanted to know how to inherit eternal life (Luke 10:25). In the Savior’s conversation with the lawyer about loving God and neighbor, Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan in order to illustrate who our neighbors are and how we should treat them (Luke 10:29–37). A Samaritan would never have been expected to help a Jew. But a priest and a Levite would have been likely candidates to help the man. Therefore, the failure of the priest and Levite would have been particularly scandalous. But the Samaritan’s care for the injured Jew shows we are not to limit the love and hospitability we are called in Christ to share with others to those who are just like us.
Finally, a little clarity for one kind of person to whom we are not to show hospitality. The Bible makes it clear that if a person professes faith in Jesus Christ but is not walking according to that faith, is in a season of unrepentant sin, has been biblically confronted and still shows no true repentance, then we are to establish disfellowship with them. Why? Because their testimony betrays Christ and His gospel. We cannot and should not endorse false testimony. So, if a brother claims Jesus but is known for false testimony or unrepentant sin, we are to have nothing to do with him. This is what we read in 2 John 1:10-11.
2 John 1:10-11 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
We see this in other verses like:
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
Romans 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Understand, this is not mean or judgmental in a fleshly way; it is biblical. It says, “I love you enough to call you to repentance and to not fellowship with you until you do.” We see biblical love and grace in that God uses it as the means for a true believer who is in sin to be drawn back to glorious reconciliation and sanctification out of sin. That’s loving and gracious. God uses it to show a deceived person—a falsely testifying person—they are not actually united to Christ, and, if God wills, the Holy Spirit will convict that person and bring about true salvation—true unity to Christ. That is loving and gracious. God uses it to help protect His people from approving, tolerating, and/or falling into sin. This is loving and gracious.
So, in closing, take some inventory:
How are you at showing hospitality to others?
Do you look for ways to give away or make time to be a blessing to others?
Do you keep your house clean in preparation to be hospitable to those who have a need?
Do you have a place for someone to lay their head or a little food/drink to give away to those who have needs?
It is one thing to say, “Sure, I will be hospitable when the need arises,” and it is another to be prepared to actually practice this spiritual discipline. Go to your church or ministry leaders and ask how you can be more involved in opening yourself up to the needs of others. Let’s be proactive in showing hospitability, and let’s be careful to not harbor the false testimony of those who are in unrepentant sin and thereby distort the testimony of the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
By His grace and for His glory,
Pastor Joshua Kirstine