Hospitality is the practice of welcoming, sheltering, and feeding — with no thought of personal gain — those who come to your door. Much more than elegant menus, elaborate table settings, or lavish entertainment — hospitality is sharing what we have and who we are with whomever God sends.
For the people of the Bible, hospitality was not merely a matter of good manners but a necessity in the harsh desert regions. Hospitality was openly rewarded, as when Rahab was given protection at Jericho’s fall for having extended hospitality to Joshua’s spies (Joshua 2:12–14). Lack of hospitality was punished, as when Nabal died after refusing to offer hospitality to David’s men (1 Samuel 25:2–39).
In the New Testament, Jesus modeled perfect hospitality as He moved beyond mundane physical needs to meet deeper needs of those who came to Him (Matthew 15:32–39). The New Testament writers also tell Christians to extend hospitality to other believers (Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9; 3 John 8). Elders and deacons, in particular, were to be hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8).
The only time believers were exhorted not to show hospitality was in the case of false teachers who might draw them away from the faith (2 John 10, 11). Those who received hospitality but did not work to support themselves and assist the host family were also to be expelled (2 Thessalonians 3:10–13).
The most important gift of welcome simply says I care, I love you, and I have prepared a place for you. Hospitality includes setting aside time for fellowship and being flexible in order to accommodate impromptu gatherings. You can share your heart and life with others, even if the meal is simple and the setting is humble.
Believers are “through love [to] serve one another” (Galatians 5:13), “without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:8–10), maintaining calmness and self-control (1 Peter 3:4), working energetically and heartily (Col. 3:23), and presenting hospitality “as to the Lord” (Matthew 25:40; Col. 3:23, 24).
Rewards accompany hospitality. Sharing with and serving others demands sacrifices, and you are promised that your sacrifices do not go unnoticed (Hebrews 6:10). Anything done for Christ not only lasts but also is multiplied (see Matthew 25:14–30).
Spiritual rewards are also forthcoming (Acts 20:35). For example, the men traveling to Emmaus invited a stranger to eat with them and found themselves breaking bread with Jesus Himself (Luke 24:13–32).
Just as the sunshine reveals the beauty of a stained glass window, hospitality allows the light of God’s Son to shine from your heart. This love is readily and effectively transferred as you open your home to others and share Christian hospitality.
Article drawn from study features in the NIV Woman’s Study Bible.
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