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Are You "Practicing" Hospitality?
Bible study on hospitality.

I recently heard a gospel sermon in which the speaker used the phrase "practicing hospitality."

This got me thinking about the "practice" of hospitality.

In this article, I want to share a few thoughts and ask, "Are you practicing hospitality?"

Hospitality Commanded
Hospitality is the friendly reception and treatment of guests, or strangers, in a warm and generous way (Random House Dictionary).

Sometimes we may think hospitality is optional.

But hospitality is a command by God, and equally important as other things such as assembling with the saints.

  • "Be hospitable to one another without complaint" (1 Pet. 4:9).

Maybe it's not human nature to be hospitable to others, and that's why it's emphasized in the New Testament.

It reminds me of the acid test Mike Matthews talks about from James 1:29. Many people in the world don't want to visit and see to the needs of others, for the same reasons they don't want to be hospitable.

Warning: Don't Complain
God commands us to be hospitable without complaint (1 Pet. 4:9). This shows that we'll be faced with challenges in order to obey this command, because God already knows some of us will complain about it.

People complain about things they don't want to do. And, there are many things people find to complain about when practicing hospitality.

  • It can be inconvenient, especially when working, going to school, or we're tired.
  • We have to do extra work like clean the house, cook for guests, and give up our beds.
  • Hospitality often takes away from other things we could be doing, such as sports.

God realizes sacrifices must be made to practice hospitality, and that some brethren will complain about it. So, we should look at hospitality as an acid test that reflects whether we're truly God's children.

Widows must pass this acid test, before they can be put on the roll. They must have a reputation for good works, which is evident by the fact they've brought up children, shown hospitality to strangers, washed the saints' feet, assisted those in distress, and devoted themselves to every good work (1 Tim. 5:10).

And men desiring to be elders must pass this acid test, before they can be appointed as shepherds of the Lord's church (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:8).

Hospitality Is Enjoyable, If. . . .
Hospitality is enjoyable if we love God. Because we love God, we want to do everything He commands. Therefore hospitality isn't a burden, and we enjoy it.

  • "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" (1 Jn. 5:3).

Hospitality is also enjoyable if we love people.

  • "We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth" (1 Jn. 3:16-18).
  • "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments" (1 Jn. 5:1-2).

When we're hospitable to others, we show that we love God, because we are observing His commandments.

And because God's commandments are not burdensome, we enjoy the time we spend with others as we extend hospitality to them. Like Jesus says, "It is more blessed to give, than to receive."

Hospitality: Brethren and Strangers
Sometimes we're good at practicing hospitality with family and friends, but not with strangers.

But God commands us to extend hospitality to both, brethren and strangers.

  • "Be hospitable to one another without complaint" (1 Pet. 4:9).
  • "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it" (Heb. 13:2).

Practicing hospitality with strangers may be a bigger test than just practicing hospitality with people we know, because it's harder to open up with people we don't know.

"Practice" Hospitality
We're not only to be hospitable, but we're to "practice" hospitality.

  • "Contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality (Rom. 12:13).

The word "practice" in Rom. 12:13 means to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire.

God wants us to eagerly endeavor to be hospitable, like Abraham who pleaded with three angels (thinking they were men) to stay with him long enough to rest, while he washed their feet and fed them, and like Lydia who pleaded with Paul to lodge with her.

Test Yourself
God commands us to test ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5).

So, let's ask three questions.

"Are you practicing hospitality?"

"Do the fruits of your life show that you're eagerly endeavoring to be hospitable?"

"Are you eagerly endeavoring to be hospitable to strangers, as well as brethren you know?"