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Practice Hospitality
Bible study on evangelism, personal work, and hospitality.

In the last few weeks, we've been studying God's word as it relates to personal work and evangelism. Specifically, we've been talking about calling and visiting people.

Today, I want to continue our study with the topic of hospitality.

What is Hospitality
The Greek word philoxenia, translated hospitality literally means, "love of strangers." It is the act of entertaining strangers or guests.

Hospitality in the New Testament
God commands us to be hospitable.

  • We are to practice hospitality (Rom. 12:13).
  • We are to be hospitable to strangers (Heb. 13:2).

Hospitality is a quality of the saints.

  • It is a qualification of elders (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:8).
  • It is a qualification of widows who are supported by the church (1 Tim. 5:10).

We must be hospitable toward Christians.

  • We must be hospitable to one another without complaining (1 Pet. 4:9).

First century Christians were hospitable beginning at Pentecost, eating meals together in their homes.

  • The saints were sharing meals together from house to house, taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart (Acts 2:46).

We will be judged as to whether we've been hospitable to the saints.

  • Jesus tells us that judgment will be based, in part, regarding our treatment of the saints. A faithful disciple is hospitable (Matt. 25:34-40).

Hospitality in Our Day and Culture
Circumstances in our culture are different from Old Testament and New Testament days. Today we have hotels affordable to anyone who can afford transportation. The need for hospitality toward the recreational or business traveler does not exist as in Bible days.

Circumstances in our culture are similar to Bible days as they relate to missionaries. Brethren who travel and preach still need a place to stay and their daily needs met, just like Jesus and the apostles. We could have an opportunity to be hospitable when a preacher travels here to teach.

Circumstances in our culture are similar to Bible days as they relate to poor brethren. Jesus tells us that we will always have the poor with us; therefore, we will always have poor brethren whom we can relieve by entertaining them in our homes. If these poor brethren are members of our congregation, we must seek to relive them of their distress as we have opportunity (Gal. 6:10).

Circumstances in our culture are similar to Bible days as they relate to the social fellowship we have with one another in our homes. Sometimes we may share a meal, and other times we might just visit and encourage one another. Hospitality in this sense is for encouragement and spiritual growth rather than meeting a pressing physical need.

It Takes Hard Work
It's not easy to be hospitable. It takes time, energy, and often financial resources. Maybe that's why Peter commands us to be hospitable "without complaint" (1 Pet. 4:9).

But hospitality is also one of the most rewarding areas of service that we extend to one another. No matter the circumstances, it's rewarding and encouraging to spend time with brethren and be encouraged by one another.

But sometimes I think we make hospitality harder than it has to be. We may not be hospitable because we think our homes have to be absolutely immaculate, or we think we have to provide an extravagant meal, or we're so drained from doing everything else.

Over time, I've learned that all the physical things don't matter (house, food, etc.). What's important is spending time with brethren, no matter what shape the house is in or what there is to eat.

And I've learned that when we put in a little extra work to extend hospitality to brethren, life is much more enjoyable, and we're more encouraged. We have to spend time with brethren to be encouraged by brethren.

Young People
It's important that we teach our children to be hospitable. Our example may be the most important way we teach our children regarding hospitality. If we raise our children in a hospitable home, they'll think it normal to have people over for social fellowship, have traveling preachers stay in our homes for days at a time, and have the poor over to eat meals.

It's important that we teach them to help us prepare to be hospitable. They need to help get the house ready, and make other preparations. Teaching them to get their rooms ready, or giving their rooms up for a house guest, is as important as teaching them to attend church and partake of the Lord's Supper.

Most importantly, young people need support and encouragement to have other young Christians into their homes. Our children need to spend time with Christians, and just not the worldly people they meet at school.

As parents, we are commanded to bring our children up in the training and admonition of the Lord. This means we must make provisions for social experiences that are encouraging and helpful to our children, in addition to providing for all their other needs. In part, hospitality toward other young Christians and their families will greatly help us obey God's command.

Our Western, twenty-first century culture, is different from the Asian culture in which the Bible was written. Our opportunities to be hospitable to brethren are different from the opportunities afforded first century brethren. We occasionally have an opportunity to be hospitable to poor brethren. And we have numerous occasions to be hospitable to one another on a social level.

Remember that hospitality is a command. And that it must be accompanied with the correct attitude, without complaining (1 Pet. 4:9).