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When you think of the term “biblical hospitality”, what comes to mind? A Pinterest-perfect table setting with china and cloth napkins folded into tulips? Well, it can be, but it certainly is much more (and less) than that.
Hospitality is defined as “Hospitality is the friendly reception and treatment of guests, or strangers, in a warm and generous way”. Biblical hospitality adds that we are to honor and obey God by serving those around us with joy.
Hospitality can look like:
- Inviting a non-Christian family out to pizza after the baseball practice
- Sharing a cup of coffee with a single mom in your neighborhood
- Inviting a couple from church over for lunch after services.
Hospitality is not about having a perfect home to show off for guests. It is not about what an amazing cook you are. It IS about extend a hand in friendship to another of God’s children.
(For more on this topic, there’s some great study information at Bible Study Tools)
One tip: Before practicing hospitality in your home, you may wish to cleanse your home with prayer.
The Bible has dozens of references to biblical hospitality. Here are just a few:
• Romans 12:13b says we are to practice hospitality—literally, to “pursue the love of strangers” (Heb. 13:2)—not simply to hang out with our best friends. If we want to demonstrate obedience to our heavenly Father, we will practice biblical hospitality.
• 1 Peter 4:9 builds on the instruction to practice hospitality and reminds us that our attitude is of utmost importance—we are to practice hospitality without complaining – literally, with joy.
• We are reminded in Hebrews 13:2 that our willingness to extend hospitality is to include strangers and that if we choose not to be hospitable to strangers, it may impact more than freeing up our social calendars. If we study the lives of Abraham and Sarah, Lot, Gideon and Manoah (Gen. 18:1-3), (Gen. 19:1–2), (Judg. 6:11–24), and (Judges 13:6–20), respectively), we learn that all of these Bible figures entertained strangers were actually messengers from God. While we shouldn’t practice hospitality with ulterior motives (what’s in it for us?) Luke 6:38 clearly states “give and it will be given to you”.
• 3 John 7–8 further instructs us to extend hospitality to those who serve in ministry. As we extend our hearts and homes to those in ministry, we become an extension of their ministries.
• One of the requirements for individuals involved in church leadership, according to 1 Timothy 3:1–2 and Titus 1:7–8, is a willingness to allow others to observe them inside their homes—the arena in which their Christian behavior is most authentically viewed.
As we consider the scriptural passages that instruct and challenge us to practice hospitality, most of us can recall a time when we tried to extend friendship or an invitation and were met with rejection. I encourage you not to let that stop you from continuing to extend the hand of friendship. Rejection stings, but God makes it pretty clear that we are to practice hospitality – don’t let human pride prevent you from obeying God.
Recently, my husband and I decided that once a month, we were going to invite a couple from church that we wanted to know better to lunch or dinner. We made a list of several couples that were not in our social circle and started inviting. We invited two and both said “yes, sure!”, but when it came to setting a date, they kept putting us off. It hurt. Our pride was injured, but we didn’t let that stop us from inviting others. We plan to do this monthly to obey God’s command of hospitality and to enjoy fellowship with other members of our church family.
Here are some ways to get started on practicing biblical hospitality:
Collect and file simple, inexpensive recipes for desserts and meals. Pinterest is great for this!
Make a list of people who would be encouraged by your offer of hospitality. (Consider both church members and others in your community)
Invite one person, couple or family per month.
Start simple—spontaneously inviting someone home after church is a great beginning.
Pray that our God, who is a great example of hospitality will give you joy in practicing biblical hospitality.
Pray over the above scriptures on biblical hospitality and ask God to open your eyes to those who could use an extension of your hand in friendship and hospitality
If you are having guests stay in your home, consider making your guest room more hospitable with the tips in this post.
For more detailed information on biblical hospitality, check out these great resources:
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How else can you practice biblical hospitality? What would you add?
Because of Him!
Biblical hospitality is one facet of living the Proverbs 31 life, for more on this, see this previous post.