There’s something about hospitality that I love so much. Maybe it’s because I love to cook, I love to have people around (even though, *sigh*, there will be the inevitable stack of dishes afterwards). But it’s worth it, so worth it.
A study of hospitality in the Bible uncovered some FASCINATING truths, and I say truly fascinating. The word “hospitality” is philonexus, which comes from philoxenus, which comes from philos and xenos. Philos means love, xenos means strangers. Hospitality literally means love of strangers and it’s the exact and total opposite of xenophobia, which is to hate people who are different.
It’s important to different between what is Christian and unchristian. Xenophobia is unchristian, welcoming people who are different with open arms is Christian, or better yet, Christ-like. The love of money, greed, corruption and bribery is unchristian, but generosity and simplicity is Christ-like. Anger and violence is unchristian, gentleness, love and kindness is Christian. Being mean-spirited and revengeful is the opposite of being forgiving and turning the other cheek. Being wise is the opposite of being foolish. The list goes on and on, and we need to be able to recognize godly values and attitudes and distinguish them from ungodly values and attitudes! Furthermore, Christians shouldn’t be known for being arrogant, for pushing our weight around, for being violent and defensive, etc. I just wish that we could represent Christ, and live “quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and reverence”. Can we be known for having Christ’s love, for being sacrificial and giving?
Discovering the meaning of the word “hospitality” was a lightbulb moment for me. Nowhere in the Bible are we taught to hate or fear people who are different from us, but, instead, we are taught to love. Not in feeling, not in word, but in action – by being hospitable, by welcoming people with open arms. We are also called to be hospitable with one another, with our brethren.
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:
(3 John 1:5-6)
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
(1 Timothy 3:2)
For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
(1 Peter 4:8-10)
Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.