The Heart of Hospitality
It is clear that scripture teaches us that Christians are to offer hospitality, to each other and as an act of entertaining strangers. But I think too often we become distracted with trying to serve perfectly than we lose focus toward offering authentic Christian hospitality. The reality is we are told to serve. We are told to love others. We are told to extend hospitality.
But, do we have a skewed view of what hospitality is? Has it become more about self-righteousness than it is about hospitable hearts? Do we seek to exalt ourselves in the eyes of the one to whom we are being hospitable, or do we seek to honor them above ourselves?
To truly know how we should serve others we must turn to God’s word for instruction. Let’s examine scripture to see God’s plan for hospitality.
“Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9. NKJV
Here we see the command, be hospitable. It is clear there is no disclaimer but there is an extension of the command, be hospitable to one another (one Christian to another) without grumbling. So from this short passage we can make some clear observations.
- We are to be hospitable.
- We are to be hospitable one to another, Christian to Christian.
- We are to do so without grumbling.
Oh my. It’s often easy to entertain others. But do we do so without grumbling? When called upon by an elder or deacon in the congregation to serve in a capacity that extends hospitality whether in the assembling of th congregation or within our own homes, do we do so without grumbling?
Grumbling from the Greek: γογγύζω, gogguzo, grumbling, grudging, murmuring.
When we offer hospitality, in whatever form, do we do so with the right heart, with the right attitude? Do we do so without murmuring or grumbling?
Let’s dig in to the meat of the passage to have a fuller understanding of God’s command.
Starting in Chapter 4, we see that because Christ suffered in the flesh we should arm ourselves with the same thinking. We should have ceased to sin (repentance and obedience; Acts 2:38, Romans 6:1-13), and to live the rest of our time, no longer in the lust of the flesh but for the will of God.
Since then we are to live for the will of God Peter then goes on to both warn and teach us. Let’s pick up the text in verse 7 of chapter 4.
“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:7-11 NKJV.
Now that we have a fuller context of this instruction we see that we should be serious and watchful in our prayers because the end of all things is at hand. Even at the time that Peter was writing this letter he was warning that Christians are to be ever diligent, and watchful for the return of the Lord. He goes on to say that were to have fervent love for one another, then he goes on to explain that we re to be hospitable without grumbling.
Continuing on we see that when we speak we should speak as the oracles of God and if we minister (serve) we should do it with the ability with which God supplies.
There are several observations which can be seen in this text.
- We are to always be serious and watchful in our prayers.
- We are to have fervent love for one another (Christian to Christian).
- We are to be hospitable.
- We re to be hospitable without grumbling.
- As each has received gift use that gift to minister to another.
- Using the gifts received to minister as good stewards of God’s manifold grace.
Ah, there is a key in the passage. If we have received the manifold grace of God, we should in turn minister to others as good stewards, i.e. overseers, of that grace. Peter goes on then to explain, how we are to do so, by speaking as if we speak for God, and ministering with the ability given to us by God. Now comes the crux of the whole, so “that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
You see the purpose of being hospitable one to another isn’t so that we ourselves look good to them. Nor should it be so that they think highly of us. It isn’t so that in our communities we will be thought of as one who is well off, or especially skilled in entertaining. The purpose, our reasoning should always come back to the glorification of God through Jesus Christ.
That is the heart of the matter when we offer hospitality, or any service to others. To glorify God through Christ. If we approach the entertaining of each other with any other attitude then our heart is not for God’s glory but for our own.
We see this instruction again in the book of Hebrews.
“Wherefore since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire. Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 12:28 – 13:2 NKJV.
Not only are we to be hospitable to one another, Christian to Christian, but we are also to entertain strangers. For the same reason, to show the grace of God and brotherly love, with reference and fear, which we should extend even unto strangers, for some have unknowingly entertained strangers unaware.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Check your Heart for Hospitality
- Am I worried what they will think that my house is too messy?
- Do I expect others to call before stopping over for a visit?
- Do I only want to offer the best of everything?
- Do I think that because I can’t afford much, I shouldn’t invite people into my home?
- Do I think that my home is not good enough for visitors?
Let’s discuss each of these fears. Firstly, you live in your home. That means on any given day there may be some dishes in the sink, beds left unmade, or dirty towels on the bathroom floor. While I think it’s important to maintain a home that is clean, clutter can happen. If we let that hinder us from doing what we are taught to do in scripture then we are hindering our relationship with Christ.
In my experience most people are comfortable being in a home that is lived in. No one wants to feel like they can’t sit down for messing up the perfectly appointed pillows. If you manage your home well, Titus 2:4, on a day to day basis, then you will have no need to panic when it’s time to be hospitable or when someone stops by unexpectedly.
Do you think that in order to be hospitable you need to supply the best linens, the most luxurious bath towels you can find, and a five coarse meal at each meal while you have guests? Or are you worried that you can’t afford to host guests for either a meal or overnight? You simply need to relax and minister with the ability which God supplies. God our faithful Father supplies all of our needs, not our wants, our needs. We then, should be good stewards of what He supplies and minister with what He deems best for our households.
Are you ashamed of the home that God has blessed you with? Do you fear it’s not good enough or big enough? Our faith needs to lie in the one who has blessed us with the gift of a home. If we trust that He meets our needs, then we should be honored to share our good gifts with others.
If you are more worried about what things look like, or whether everything is just perfect, then maybe it’s time you examined your heart to see if you are offering authentic Christian hospitality.When you open your home with the heart of love, love for God and love for others, then guests will find joy and peace at your table.
Be sure to read all of the Hospitality Series.
Don’t Miss: Training up in Hospitality a post about training your children to be hospitable.