When you think of hospitality, what comes to mind? For me, I think of inviting people into my home and creating a space for them to feel loved and welcomed. I think of providing food and comfort for them—making the home feel warm, and visitors feel appreciated no matter what they carry in the door.
Paul tells us in Romans 12:9-13, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”
These verses remind me of God’s heart for His people. He desires for us to truly see His people and love them. Sometimes, people can tell when the love isn’t real so Paul tells us to really love and serve them. We are to advocate for His image bearers and set our eyes on helping them. Often, it means putting aside our own agendas to be of service to someone else. Being hospitable isn’t always convenient or favorable.
When someone shares things that are concerning them, it is hard for me not to want to help. Sometimes, I have to pray and ask the Lord to show me what my role is in helping them because I acknowledge my limitations. I know I may not be able to meet all of the needs on my own. In some circumstances, what concerns them is beyond my skillsets or abilities, but I have noticed how God will allow my ears to hear about someone who may be in a field or better position to provide better assistance.
Different Forms of Hospitality
Hospitality comes in many forms. Sometimes, it is us directly by offering help, monetary resources, or a listening ear. Other times, it could be introducing the need to someone else in our sphere of influence who can best assist. God has given each of us ways to be hospitable.
Sometimes, I have trouble asking others for help. Whenever I feel this happening, I am reminded of someone telling me “not to rob someone else of an opportunity of being a blessing.” These words have rested on my heart as I never want someone who is led to be a blessing to not be able to do so because of me.
When I think of hospitality, I can’t help but be reminded of the Scripture in Acts 2:44-46, which tells us, “And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.” What a beautiful picture this would have been to witness! To have an opportunity to see people worshipping together and sharing everything they had. How kind would that be to witness in our world today?
God’s Ultimate Plan for Hospitality
Years ago, I read the book The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosario Butterfield. In this book, she talks about seeing our home as a place where we exemplify the gospel message. When we can open our homes to our neighbors from all walks of life, we see how the gospel can bring different people together that the world would think could never get along. We don’t always have to recite the Scripture; sometimes, it is a matter of just living it out.
We may not know why the Lord will put us in specific neighborhoods or zip codes, but we can be certain that there is a strategic reason. God is intentional about all things. He can use our homes to ignite conversations that show people they are loved, seen, valued, and cared for.
For the single neighbor, maybe it is showing her that she doesn’t have to eat dinner alone, or for the neighbor who just moved to the city, showing that there is a friendly face willing to assist. We have an opportunity to walk out Scripture every day through our hospitality. We can’t underestimate how hospitality can open the door for someone to experience Jesus in a fresh way. If we allow God to use us, He will open doors for us to show love and kindness to and for His people.
When God allows our eyes to see a need, it opens the door for us to search for ways to show hospitality to them.
Practical, Biblical Hospitality
Below are some practical ways we can practice biblical hospitality:
1. Pray and ask the Lord for ways to be hospitable: We all have different passions and skill sets. Ask the Lord how you can use what you have in this season to practice hospitality. It can be as simple as inviting someone to go on a walk, offering a single mom a helping hand, or opening your home to college students in your church. God can reveal ways to be hospitable to meet the needs of your community. He delights in seeing us show love to His people. What a beautiful picture of the gospel when we can choose to help someone else and not keep it all for ourselves.
2. Create an environment to foster community: One of the ways we can be hospitable is by making people feel seen, valued, and safe. This can be in your home and your daily conversations. We should authentically seek to provide comfort to those we are entrusted with. When we foster this type of community, it will open the door for them to soften their hearts to receive what the Lord could lead you to share. We were not created to do life alone, and we shouldn’t be ok seeing others living in that manner.
3. Always look for opportunities to serve: There will always be an opportunity to serve someone in big or small ways. We just have to keep a heart’s posture where there is a desire to see the ways we can serve. This can be done in different ways, but as you build community with those you are entrusted with, ask them for ways you can help lighten their load. Jesus came to earth and served others; we can follow His example by finding ways to serve those in our world. Be hospitable to those you see and look for ways to serve them.
4. Steward our words honorably: Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Our words have power. We can choose words to build someone up or to tear them down. As believers, we should seek encouraging ways to use our words to be helpful to someone else. This world is beating people down enough; they don’t need what leaves our lips to do the same.
Being hospitable should seep from within us believers. We should be people who are always looking for ways to be a blessing to others. Let the gospel be displayed through us in how we practice biblical hospitality daily. Allow God to show us why He has placed us at our workplace, in our neighborhoods, and our churches. There is always a bigger reason why He has us in those places and around certain people. God is good and kind. He desires His goodness and kindness to be displayed through us and for His people. God can build His kingdom in many ways, yet He chooses to allow us to partner with Him in doing so. Let’s be partners who seek to display hospitality to His people however He leads us.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Aaron Burden