Romans 12:13 (ESV)
13Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
For those of us who are Elders, hospitality is important. It’s a requirement. “Given to hospitality” is how Paul described the qualified Bishop.
But hospitality is something that always has, and still should characterize Christians in general. Sadly, it’s becoming a thing of the past in our culture. Long gone are the days of sitting on the front porch, sippin’ sweat tea on the swing, seein’ some neighbors stollin’ by, and welcomin’ them in to your house for pleasant conversation. For whatever reason, we don’t do that anymore. We’re worse off because of it.
But we can still learn to be hospitable as the people of God. Here are some suggestions on how you could develop a welcoming presence in the lives of others, hurting people, visitors, and maybe even an enemy or two.
First, look up. The Gospel is the basis for Christian hospitality. God has welcomed us permanently into his heavenly home, adopted us fully as member of his family. Jesus is our “older brother” and we are now “joint heirs.” The hospitality God has shown us is both the model and the empowerment for the hospitality we show here on the earth.
Second, look out. There are hurting people everywhere. Ask questions. Seek to listen. Learn. Be prayerful. The words “one another” occur nearly 100 times in the New Testament. You can’t be hospitable unless you are also first aware. Be a “one another” kind of Christian.
Third, look in. What resources has God given you to be a hospitable encouragement to others? God has given you everything he has given you for your enjoyment as well as for the enjoyment of others. He has made you a body part, a member that has something to contribute no matter how small or insignificant it might seem to you. The body needs you; it needs every member. Ask yourself, “What resources do I have and how can I use them to serve others?” Just a cup of cold water will bring eternal rewards here.
Fourth, look around. See that these new people that you’re reached out to, that you’ve surrounded yourself with – see that they feel like part of your family. This completes the circle that began with looking up. As God has loved us, so we ought to love one another. As God has made us a part of his family, so we should seek to make others feel like they belong. When they come over to your house, make sure that as you look around and see your family, do your best to see the new additions as if they were part of your family. Because, as the Gospel teaches us, they already are.