Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Practicing Hospitality

No copyright infringement intended
From a biblical perspective, “Hospitality can be defined as “the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.” In the New Testament, the Greek word translated “hospitality” literally means “love of strangers.”[1]

The Scriptures commands us, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God (Hebrews 13:16, ESV). If commanded, then it is an attitude Christians must adhere consistently on a daily basis. The simple reason is this: “Everything that passes between Christians should be a proof and instance of the union they have in Jesus Christ” (Matthew Henry Commentary).[2] 

When we practice hospitality, we represent Jesus and His principles. Jesus practiced hospitality especially among the society’s poor and as a result, infringed on various traditional practices of His time. Notwithstanding, He performed many hospitable acts in spite of various oppositions because He is only motivated by His great love of humanity.

The apostle Paul summarized how practicing hospitality looked like in this way, Share with the Lord’s people who are in need” (Romans 12:13, NIV). The Parable of the Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) clearly showed how hospitality is practiced. Simply put, Jesus taught that hospitality is an attitude of the heart, not an opportunity of becoming great in the sight of others. Therefore, when we follow Jesus’ example of hospitality, it becomes a lifestyle:

The duty of ministering to the saints is so plain, that there would seem no need to exhort Christians to it; yet self-love contends so powerfully against the love of Christ, that it is often necessary to stir up their minds by way of remembrance. (Matthew Henry Commentary)[3]

Practicing hospitality goes beyond the idea of just being a hospitable person but as Christian believers following the hospitality principles exemplified by Jesus. And having this mindset aligns with the exhortation of the apostle Paul’s to the Colossian Christians: “So that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10, ESV).

In our time today, how do we go about practicing hospitality? Allow me to provide three components of practicing hospitality and it begins by having open hands and an inclination of extending help to others in need without reservations. In the Old Testament, here's a simple instruction to follow:

If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. (Deuteronomy 15:7-8, ESV)

What does it mean to have open hands? Here’s what I found shared by Shasta Nelson,

My open hands invite me to embrace, hug and cherish the people in my life now. My open hands remind me to feel grateful for those relationships even when they have flown away. My open hands provide me a visual promise that I anticipate a future filled with more love.[4]

Next, it is by having open hearts and involvement without restraints. When asked by a group of audience, “John replied, "Whoever has two tunics should share with him who has none, and whoever has food should do the same" (Luke 3:11, ESV). What does it mean to have open hearts? Rick Hanson, a Ph.D. shared an excellent idea,

Get a sense of your heart being expansive and inclusive, like the sky. The sky stays open to all clouds, and it isn’t harmed by even the stormiest ones. Keeping your heart open makes it harder for others to upset you.[5]

Lastly, it is by having open doors and an initiative without regrets. Jesus encouraged us this way: “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42, NIV). What does it mean to have open doors? Nan McCullough shared this wonderful insight,

Our present culture is moving toward more and more isolation. We work at jobs where we sit in cubicles in front of computer screens and talk to unknown faces on telephones. We come home, lock our doors, and sit in front of the television. Hospitality counteracts this trend because most people are honored when you open your home to them.[6]

In the end, always remember that our acts of hospitality, anchored in Jesus’ principles, induce hope for many in need. More importantly, it reflects the right character of what Christianity is all about. And finally, don’t get tired of doing good things to others in need because God will bless us more than we expect to receive.

Let’s talk again!

[1] https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-hospitality.html
[2] https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=47&c=9
[3] https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=47&c=9
[4] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/shasta-nelson-mdiv/open-hands-blessing_b_1108355.html
[5] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rick-hanson-phd/what-is-an-open-heart_b_8134850.html
[6] http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/faith/essentials/reaching-out/is-your-home-open-to-others