Hebrews 13:1,2 – “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
1 Peter 4:9 – “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.”
We have family staying with us for a while. The holidays usually bring family and friends to visit….or we are the ones visiting. It is so fun to have people you love and don’t see very often under your roof. It is more than a casual get together. It is a down in the trenches good time. You know, the kind where you ask your nephew to gather the trash in the bathroom because tomorrow is garbage day and he acts as if the world has ended because it is “the grossest job in the world!” Good times.
Sometimes I fear that hospitality is a lost art. I know I’m not as good at it as I should be. But back in Bible times, it was nothing at all to have random people come and stay with you. And they provided everything for every need. Totally different mindset than today. I cannot imagine having a stranger stay under my roof, but they did it without hesitation. And they were blessed by it. Their level of hospitality supersedes ours by a million. It may have been difficult on them but they were expected to be the “hostess with the mostest”.
Now, obviously not everyone was good at hospitality – otherwise the verse in 1 Peter would not have been necessary. Good old Webster’s 1828 defines hospitality as “The act or practice of receiving and entertaining strangers or guests without reward, or with kind and generous liberality.” This definition reminds me that I need to be hospitable and not be a hotel. You go to a hotel and you pay a fee and you get the level of service that you pay for. You stay in an inexpensive hotel, you may get less than stellar service. You stay at a 5-star hotel, you expect the best.
Well, Jesus expects us to show His love by creating a 5-star environment in our home without the 5-star price tag. Now, how does that show His love? Just think about Him for a moment. He came to earth from Heaven in the form of a baby in a manger. Heaven. Manger. Heaven. Manger. Do you comprehend what He gave up for us? And He is asking us to give up a few days of our wonderful, perfect little life to create the best environment we can for a few people who have chosen to make their home our home. And He is asking us to do this without complaining. Because in doing so, we show His love. We show sacrifice. We show acceptance.
Hospitality should not be a chore. It should be a blessing. Yes, you will have a few more dishes to clean and a few more towels to wash. But think of all the sweet memories and opportunities to show the love of Jesus to those under your roof. Life is too short to be cranky and uncaring. It’s Christmas. Open the doors of your heart to someone. You don’t have to have them move in for a month in order to show them hospitality. Maybe you just need to send them a Christmas card or give them a plate of cookies or send them a text letting them know they are welcome to come to church on Sunday with your family. Little acts of hospitality are just as important as the big ones.