Have you ever experienced amazing hospitality? If you have, you might be reminiscing about it right now – how you felt like you were at home (or possibly better!), how you had a great time, and you might even remember the amazing meal they cooked for you. The South even earned a reputation for great hospitality with the term ‘Southern Hospitality’. Despite the South’s claim to fame, hospitality was on God’s heart long before America declared its independence. In fact, hospitality is so important to God that He mentioned it more than 87 times in the bible! Let’s take a look at God’s idea of hospitality, and why it is so important to Him.
The first question I asked myself when I began to write this was “Why is hospitality so important to God?” Upon further study, I realized that Hebrews 13:2 does an excellent job of answering my question: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” – Hebrews 13:2
You see, hospitality goes two ways. Good hospitality not only makes the guest feel loved and welcomed (an excellent ministry tool!), but it is a test of our own hearts. Regardless of whom our guest is or their status, we should treat all guests as if they were Angels. In doing this, we express humility in its purest form.
You may ask, “Alright Stuart, this hospitality thing is probably important to God, but what is good hospitality?”
Hospitality comes in many forms, fortunately for us Jesus specifically addresses good hospitality in the book of Matthew, “34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’” – Matthew 25:34-36
In the following scripture Jesus tells us that anybody who does these things for another man does it for Him. Good hospitality means many things, but Jesus really breaks it down simply for us. Offer food and drink to others, invite complete strangers (and friends) into our homes, clothe those that need clothing, care for the sick, and visit those in prison. These are all things that comfort others, and all require putting others before one’s self.
Hospitality is no doubt one of the most important things we can do to serve the Kingdom of Christ, and Jesus tells us that every act and good deed will not go unnoticed in heaven “For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.” – Mark 9:41
I encourage everyone today to think of every opportunity to give hospitality as a chance to serve Jesus!