Hospitality is one of the foundational characteristics of the Christian lifestyle. It is not simply a good deed Christians ought to do, but rather an act of obedience to God's commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39). In fact, in the Greek language hospitality more literally means "love of strangers." True love can simultaneously fulfill the physical needs of a person while pointing him to God's incredible plan to meet his spiritual needs as well (1 John 3:16–18; Ephesians 4:15).
What does the Bible say about hospitality?
Evidence of hospitality is found throughout the Old Testament and was a key component of the Israelite's society. Under the Law, God instructed the Israelites to treat visitors well (Leviticus 19:33–34). God modeled this by rescuing the Israelites from Egypt where they were foreigners and bringing them home to the Promised Land. A great example of hospitality occurred when Abraham was visited by three strangers. He provided them with food to eat and later discovered that the strangers were actually angels sent by God (Genesis 18).
In the New Testament the Jewish practice of hospitality was demonstrated by many people who welcomed Jesus and His disciples into their homes and provided for them as they travelled. Many New Testament verses also encourage Christians to be hospitable. This characteristic starts with leaders. In the book of Titus one of the qualifications of elders is to be hospitable (Titus 1:8).
There are many reasons why we should be hospitable. Through hospitality people further the ministry of God, entertain angels, set an example for nonbelievers of God's love, and even demonstrate love to God (Matthew 25:34–36).
God not only wants Christians to be set apart from other people by the way they live, but also wants their lifestyle to reflect His relationship with humanity. Hospitality, then, becomes a symbol of God's love for and grace towards sinners whom He desires to bring back into relationship with Himself.
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