Welcome back for our chapter 2 discussion on Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others by Pat Ennis & Lisa Tatlock. This is part 2 of an eight week discussion on this book. For part 1, visit here. We are so glad you decided to join us! I will once again start by giving a brief recap of the chapter followed by a few discussion questions which you can use to lead in sharing what stood out to you in this chapter in the comments below. Even if you are not participating in the study, I encourage you to keep reading…Chapter 2 focused on Hospitality & Strangers.
This chapter highlights both the Old & New Testament commands to practice hospitality. Romans 12:13 says, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” The very core of understanding this biblical command is understanding that this command is a practical way to visualize our love for God and for His people. Our foundation for practicing hospitality must be found in the truth that God’s remarkable grace has been demonstrated to us (Romans 1-11), and thus we should witness our transformed lives by showing brotherly love to others.
- Proverbs 14:31 – a means of honoring and loving Christ by meeting the needs of the poor
- 1 Peter 4:9 – to be practiced without grumbling or complaining, or thought of reward.
- Hebrews 13:1-2 – literally “a love for strangers” – treating fellow believers (Rom. 12:3, 1 Tim. 3:2), widows, orphans (1 Tim. 5:1-16), unbelievers (Luke 5:29), the poor and needy (Luke 14:12-14), missionaries (Matt. 10:9-11; Luke 10:7-16), foreigners, immigrants, refugees (Gen. 18:1-22; Lev. 25:35), and even enemies (Rom. 12:20) as if they were your very own family.
- Proverbs 19:17 – helping the poor, understanding that the Lord will repay you!
- Meeting the basic needs of others – and can include preparing food, providing lodging, giving physical protection, sharing material possessions, offering a place of rest, extending love and encouragement, sharing the gospel and spiritual teaching or encouragement.
The authors then proceed to give four points in summary of the Old Testament understanding of hospitality:
- Hospitality was viewed as a duty – considered a responsibility or obligation.
- Hospitality was offered sincerely, earnestly extended from the heart.
- Hospitality was inclusive of all people – friends, strangers and enemies.
- Hospitality was mutually respected, meaning that guests reciprocated the hospitality with a permanent and loyal friendship.
Do you and I view hospitality with the same kind of commitment?
Finally, the chapter is concluded with this powerful statement: “The most important consideration is that hospitality is a reflection of God’s nature. God is a welcoming God. He pursues and extends relationship, meeting needs and providing safety. As we model a life of invitation, employing our resources to meet the needs of others, we provide the world with a picture of a much greater spiritual truth – God invites all to his safe embrace.”
I was greatly impacted by this chapter. My eyes were opened to see that God purposefully designed hospitality to be an extension of His love for all people, not just those I am comfortable with. I easily focus on extending hospitality to friends and family, and although that is definitely a significant aspect of it, I did not realize how much emphasis the Scripture puts on extending it to the poor, needy, and other strangers. It is a simple way for me to extend Christ’s love and make my home a center of evangelism. It really means stepping outside my comfort zone because it is clearly mandated to extend it to all varieties of strangers! It requires humility, self-denial, and truly putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus hung out with the lowliest of men and as a result He won many to Himself. We are commanded to invite those who cannot repay us (Luke 14:12-14)!
I love the followed definitions of hospitality given by the ladies interviewed in this chapter: “A welcoming spirit to open your home and share what the Lord has given you with anyone he brings your way: friends, family, neighbors, or someone you just met. Meeting the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of our guests in an atmosphere of warmth and love. The ultimate goal of Christian hospitality is furthering the kingdom; in other words, will my behaviors encourage others to know Christ? Will more people be in heaven because God worked through me?”
What an important call to show brotherly love by practicing hospitality! Remember...”entertaining focuses on having a beautiful table decor or preparing gourmet food. Biblical hospitality is a demonstration of love. Food and other elements are merely tools used to express our love for people. Our motivation for being hospitable is a response to God’s work in our lives.”
We will continue this book next time, Monday, February 22, with chapter 3: Hospitality & Family. If you are interested in joining us, please do. There is still time. Order your copy today here!
I am interested in hearing what you took away from this chapter. Feel free to post comments below or write your thoughts on your blog (and come back and post the link in the comments). No need to share anything profound, just whatever stood out to you. Here are a few questions to get you started:
1. How was your definition of hospitality re-defined after reading this chapter?
2. How can you begin to switch gears from focusing on “entertaining” to truly demonstrating Biblical love?
3. How can you begin now to start including a variety of “strangers” into your hospitality practices?