Given to hospitality! That is for people who live in the South where they are known for their Southern hospitality, right? Others might look at the phrase, “given to hospitality” and think that is only for married people who own their own homes. And many times men might be guilty of thinking that hospitality is what ladies do! According to the Word of God, all Christians are to be given to hospitality! In Romans 12, “given to hospitality” is found in a list that has this heading in my Bible, “Behave Like a Christian.” In other words, given to hospitality is what ought to mark all Christians no matter their age, gender, marital status, or where they live.
However, being given to hospitality is a lost pursuit today. Some have no idea what it even means to be hospitable, because they have never seen it modeled or explained. Five different New Testament books address the reality that believers need to be given to hospitality (Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9 and Hebrews 13:2). The two related Greek words that are used to describe hospitality is philoxenia or philoxenos. They are compound words; philos meaning love or fondness and xenos meaning stranger. They literally mean a love of strangers. For the believer, this means we love people that we do not yet know and/or we love people who are different, in that they are not yet believers. This love of people means that we are willing to entertain them and welcome them into our lives, homes and gatherings. In Hebrews 13:2, we are commanded to not forget to entertain strangers (philoxenos), for some have unwittingly entertained angels. That is likely a description of Abraham when he welcomed three men (angels) whom he had never met before into his home (Genesis 18:2). Abraham welcomed them into his home and ministered to them so that they were refreshed both in their hearts and in their stomachs. Then Abraham sent them on their way. In other words, Abraham loved them, welcomed them, and ministered to them even though he had never personally met them before.
Our ministry emphasis for the month of April will be hospitality. The reason why you should participate is not because it is the ministry of the month, but rather because this ministry is clearly taught in the Scriptures for all believers. Let me give you two practical ways to fulfill this ministry.
First, when the church gathers consider how you can welcome “strangers” and minister to them. It is easy for us to reach out to those with whom we have things in common, but stretch yourself by reaching out to “strangers.” By strangers, I don’t mean that the people are strange, but rather they are people you do not know yet and, in that sense, are strange to you. Before you talk with whom you are the most comfortable, reach out and introduce yourself to a guest that might be attending for the first time. Or introduce yourself to someone whom you have seen many times, but have not personally met.
Secondly, when the church scatters, consider how you can love strangers. Here the stranger might be the neighbor that you barely know or the new co-worker or student in school. Often times the stranger is an unbeliever. Make it a goal to welcome someone outside of the body of Christ into your home or life so that you can “refresh” them by providing a meal and encouraging their soul. One practical way to do this is to partner with another Christian friend or family and together reach out to an unbeliever as you are given to hospitality!
The church calendar is a little lighter this month, so plan an evening to reach out to an unbeliever and invite them into your life and/or home. Refresh their soul and enjoy a meal together. If you see someone in the church family that you don’t know really, reach out to them as well! 1 Peter 4:9 states, “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” And remember Romans 12:13: “be given to hospitality.”