I had the opportunity to grow up in a home with parents who displayed hospitality very well. My parents were big on loving strangers through hosting Bible studies. When my siblings and I would bring home friends who did not have close relationships with their parents, my mother and father would make a point to love our friends every time they entered the home by cooking them meals and having intentional conversations with them.
It is with that background that I have a sweet spot for hospitality and the reason I wanted to write about the topic. If you are thinking, “This article does not apply to me because I do not have a house,” I would like to encourage you by saying that you do not need a house to be hospitable. If you have a place to lay your head, you can love strangers with what God has given you.
First, let’s talk about what the Bible has to say about hospitality. It’s not simply the act of having people in your home. In the Greek, the word “hospitality” means “lover of strangers”. Paul encourages the saints in Romans 12:9-13 to love one another and seek to show hospitality. Collegian, look for opportunities to show hospitality now as you do not need to wait until you have a house to fulfill this command. There are plenty of occasions; ask the Lord for eyes to see them. The holidays are coming up and are a great opportunity to invite people in who don’t have family nearby or who are new to the area and do not know anyone. Show them hospitality by inviting them to share a meal with you or your family.
When we think of showing love to people, the people who often come to mind are family and friends. That is great! Do not stop loving them. But I would encourage you to add strangers to that list because we are displaying a Christ-like love to other people — especially those who do not know Him or need to be reminded of His love for them — when we invite them into our gatherings. It’s a wonderful chance to share what God has given us.
Here are some reminders that help me to obey God in this area of life: Start by assessing your heart. In 1 Peter 4:8-9, Peter reminds us to be hospitable without grumbling. This is a good reminder to pay attention to our hearts as we seek to love other people. If we are going through the motions of service while complaining, then we are thinking about ourselves and not others. That is not loving, and therefore, not godly hospitality. If you find your heart struggling with hospitality that is free from grumbling, remember the life of Christ and follow His example as a sinless servant.
Some other traps that can keep us from showing true hospitality are a prideful desire to show off what we have, or a love of money that keeps us from sharing our resources. If you struggle with either one of those, ask God to free you from the love of money and consider others as more important than yourself, so that you can be free to share what you have with those He brings into your life. Ask him to give you a heart for people that you do not know and to be willing to give freely, in humility. This can be difficult because it’s easier to love the people that we have built memories and history with, but we can begin to have a heart for true hospitality by remembering that God loves the stranger, and so should we. My challenge, then, is to consider that if we are not showing hospitality, we may have lost sight of what Christ has done for us.