We are in the holiday season. Meaning, among other things, you will be spending more of your time with family and friends. Gathering with those closest to you during the holiday season is an instinctive impulse. Admittedly, gathering together is not always joyful nor easy. Nevertheless, to the best of your ability, I encourage you to lovingly move toward your family and friends this holiday season. More specifically, I encourage you to share the love of God by being hospitable – inviting others into your house, your family, your life, and your fridge!
What is hospitality? Hospitality is a word scarcely used in the Bible (zero occurrences in the OT, and just three times in the NT), but its strokes are seen painted over the entire canvas of Scripture. In the Greek (philoxenia) is made up of philos, meaning friend, and xenos, meaning host of guests. It is easy to get the picture of what Romans 13:12 and Hebrews 13:2 are getting at – Christians host their friends. 1 Tim 5:10 takes this a step further saying hospitality can also be an attitude (philoxenos). Remarkably, in each instance of this word the surrounding context has two main ideas – love and care. Put it all together and the Christian loves and cares for others through hospitality!
Now, for most of us this is not breaking new ground (either theological or practical). We love having beloved family and friends over! And we are grateful that the Lord instructs us to do so. But hospitality, in the Greek, can also mean host of strangers! Those you may not know, those who are new to your circles, those who may not have much, those who are seemingly different than you, those that you may not love or even like. God calls us to love and care for those we may not know well or at all through hospitality.
Why should we ever be hospitable? Let us remember the reason we love and care for others in the first place – is it not God who loved and cared for us, strangers to Him in our sin, so much that by the greatest cost ever paid He might adopted us into His eternal and holy kingdom and family (Eph 2:19)? How could we not do the same for others? How could we not show the picture of God’s great gospel love to others through hospitality?
Jesus Christ brings this out in Matthew 25:31-46 (go and read it please). As He describes His judgment between the lost and the saved on the Day of the Lord, He says the evidence of righteousness in His people is the act and spirit of hospitality “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in…” The listeners are a bit confused and ask, “When did we do this for you?” And Jesus replies, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Amazingly, when you are hospitably taking care of others you are loving Jesus Christ.
So, take a moment to look around your familiar circles and see who it would be good to invite over and take care of this holiday season. But then look around and see who is not part of your familiar circles and find out if you can care for them. Who is it around you that doesn’t have family in the area you can have over with your family? Who is it around you that has needs that you may be able to meet this season? Who is it around you that is new to the area (or to Green Pond Bible Chapel) that could use some new fellowship relationships? Who is it around you that you keep running into (as if the Lord is sovereignly crossing your paths on purpose)? Who is it around you that is hurting this season and could use the assurance of Christ’s love for them? Who is it around you that has been asking questions about faith or the Bible or God? Look for these people and families and lovingly invite them into your home and family this season. They will be blessed, you will be blessed, and the Lord Jesus Christ will be blessed.
P.s. Why does hospitality have to be in the home? Or, maybe, couldn’t it happen elsewhere? The spirit of hospitality isn’t bound to the four walls of your domicile… but the main arena of hospitality is the home. Probably the most loving and caring part of hospitable acts is that you are bringing people, in a sense, physically nearer to the gospel as your family cares for them in the home. For the home is the central family outpost of the gospel, the Christian home is be to saturated in gospel-ness. Not just the wall art that says “Thankful” or “Blessed” or “Grateful” or quotes Joshua 24:15 but that the very life of the house centers on the gospel. So when you invite someone into your home you are inviting them into the locus of your family’s faith in and expression of God’s gospel.