Offer Hospitality to One Another (revised)
Consideration... The Call of a Good Host
1 Peter 4:9 (NIV)
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
There is probably at least one occasion in all of our lives where we can recall being treated far less than hospitable. Even if the instant wasn’t outright hostile, we were still left feeling awkward and uneasy. Keep that thought in mind and consider this… during Biblical times there was much more to the term hospitality than what we attach to it today.
The word hospitality derives from the Latin hospes, which is formed from hostis, originally meaning "to have power." The meaning of "host" can be literally read as "lord of strangers."
1 Chronicles 11:9 (KJV)
So David waxed greater and greater: for the LORD of hosts was with him.
The scripture referenced above has nothing to do with throwing a party. There is nothing that speaks of invitations or R.S.V.P. returns. Throughout the Old Testament, God is referred to as the “Lord of Hosts”, and most of these references are given in the context of authority, power, and war. That’s quite a bit different from the notion of a guy or gal serving finger sandwiches and punch. So, what is the common thread, where is the connection that provides us with a joined understanding in our concept of the two extremes?
Proverbs 22:9 (KJV)
He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
Some answers can be found in the way strangers expected to be treated by the hosts or lords they encountered. Desert nomads didn't have vacation guide books, nor were there many hotels or rest stops. At the hand of a true "Host", the very least one could look forward to was refreshment from their journey. Food and rest were offered, and in most cases shelter and provision as well. The lord or host would consider it an oversight if he were to allow harm to befall the stranger under his care. Consideration and protection would be furnished as a matter of honor; with concern for the guest’s wellbeing being the general norm. The whole idea of hospitality is one of ensuring a sense of easiness, making the person feel relaxed and secure. This Biblical model reminds us that we are to consider what the person has faced and is facing when coming into our presence, and to do what we can to encourage them, putting them at ease. It also urges us to think ahead to what might be of need when they depart from our company. Giving thought to make provision for that which is yet to be encountered. To be mindful of their total wellbeing; past, present and future... this is the call of hospitality and the duty of a good host. Consider these passages which give instruction concerning treatment of strangers.
Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Job 31:32 (KJV)
The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my doors to the traveller.
John 14:2 (KJV)
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
In reality, we were all strangers at one time… enemies of our Heavenly Father as a matter of fact; cut off from God by our sinful nature. It is the work of the cross and the call to faith which provides us with a common starting point to change that. We have been given the opportunity to come in the “Name of the Lord.”
1 Samuel 17:45 (KJV)
Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
When an army goes into battle, it does so at the will of its king for the defense of the kingdom. What's at stake is the wellbeing of its people. Christ is the “Lord of Lords”, and “King of Kings”; all who follow Him engage in “Spiritual Warfare” against sin and unrighteousness in the defense of “His Kingdom.” The welfare of those in the “Body of Believers” becomes the thing at stake. in essence, we represent Christ and His love for the Church. Just as the armies of Israel had God before them and with them, we have Christ as both example and leader before us and with us. Let us therefore in the “Spirit of Christ” show “Hospitality to One Another”, operating as “Good Hosts”; considering not only the physical needs, but also the spiritual struggle faced by those we encounter. Taking the time to care for their needs and provide comfort and assurance that in a “life of Christ”… every need will be supplied.
There is something else to consider... something that is often overlooked by many. We are in the soul winning business. The Good News of Christ's salvation as well as His love for the lost sinner is our mandate. This we show to every "Stranger", giving them opportunity in the hope that they will join us in the Body of Christ. If we shun them, refusing the opportunity to freely extend the hospitality of Christ... what manner of hope have we really given them?
Leviticus 19:33-34 (KJV)
And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Hebrews 13:1-3 (KJV)
Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.