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Given to Hospitality

INTRODUCTION: The Old Testament practice of hospitality is given to us in the New Testament as an important part of our love to others. Hospitality refers to the practice of treating others as special guests. Both host and guest come from the same root word that is used for hospitality, hospital, hospice, hostel, and hotel. It means to receive some as a guest and actively take care of their needs for rest and refreshment.

Someone has made a distinction between entertainment and hospitality. Entertainment emphasizes things while hospitality emphasizes the person and particular care for them. In scripture, hospitality is especially practiced with strangers, travelers, and those in special need (like the poor). Jesus particularly enjoins us to reach out to the needy (Luke 14:12-14); to those who cannot recompense us. However, as seen in 1 Peter 4:9, we are also to practice hospitality with one another.

Here are New Testament commands to practice hospitality:

  • Romans 12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
  • 1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
  • 1 Timothy 5:10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
  • Titus 1:8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
  • Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
  • 1 Peter 4:9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

The story in Genesis 18:1-8 provides a wonderful example of hospitality. There are several precepts that apply to all times in this passage:

    1. The strangers arrived in the heat of the day (Genesis 18:1) when the people of the Middle East would find a place of shade and rest until the sun began to drop toward the horizon. They worked early and late, but avoided the worst of the midday heat.
    2. This did not stop Abraham from rushing to serve them (Genesis 18:2)
    3. Hospitality does the inconvenient for the sake of others.
    1. Abraham, Sarah, and the young man all work with haste to serve the three men.
      1. Abraham ran to meet them (Genesis 18:2)
      2. Abraham hastened into the tent (Genesis 18:6)
      3. Sarah made the cakes quickly (Genesis 18:6)
      4. Abraham ran unto the heard (Genesis 18:7)
      5. The young man hasted to dress the calf (Genesis 18:7)
    2. We must learn to put a priority on our hospitality to others.
    1. Abraham bowed himself toward the ground (Genesis 18:2).
    2. Although this was a visit from the Lord and we are not to bow to  our guests today, it still teaches us the importance of humility in the practice of hospitality. Hospitality puts others first and ourselves last.
    3. Luke 14:7-11 Take the lowest room and put others first.
    1. Abraham took care that their feet were washed, their bodies were rested, and their hunger was satisfied (Genesis 18:4-5).
    2. Even more, Abraham sought that they might comfort ye your hearts (Genesis 18:5). He was caring for the inner man as well.
    3. True hospitality is not necessarily having others over for meals; it is caring for the needs of others and attempting to supply them whatever they may be.
    1. Abraham confidently stated: for therefore are ye come to your servant. He saw their coming as a providential work of God to give him the opportunity to minister to them.
    2. We should also count any opportunity for hospitality as an opportunity given by God to serve Him.
    1. Everything in this story shows Abraham to be doing all that could reasonably be expected and then more. He promised them a morsel of bread (Genesis 18:5) and then got them an abundance of cakes (Genesis 18:6), a calf tender and good (Genesis 18:7), and butter and milk (Genesis 18:8).
    2. Hospitality goes beyond the basic needs a person has and oversupplies them for the sake of being a blessing.
    1. When Abraham brought all these things out to his visitors, he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat (Genesis 18:8). He did not partake himself, but cared only for their needs.
    2. Hospitality cares for the others first and only then for personal needs.

CONCLUSION: We need to learn to look upon hospitality as spiritual service to the Lord. Perhaps this is best illustrated in the judgment of the nations.

Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
 35 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:
 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.