Hospitality should be at the forefront of all our minds as Christians.
Consider this parable told by Jesus in Matthew 25 (For brevity’s sake, I’ve only included part of the parable):
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Hospitality is a Ministry
He needed a place to stay, some clean clothes, and dinner.
I provided him with everything he needed – not because I felt bad for him, because he didn’t need pity. Not because I wanted to enable bad decision-making, even though he has definitely made some bad decisions recently.
I did it because he was in a crisis, and I remembered Jesus’ parable from Matthew 25.
I knew that if I turned him away, I would be leaving my friend behind.
I hadn’t seen him in about a year, so it was also very much like the parable of the Prodigal Son, in that he came back to me repentant of his sins and wanting nothing more than my love for him. Most importantly, He yearned for God’s love.
I believed taking him in was a ministry to him.
And providing hospitality for those in need – personally and practically, not just a general and nebulous feeling of hospitable-ness toward others – is without a doubt a ministry sanctioned by Jesus Himself.Provide for those in need. #hospitality #love #faith Click To Tweet
Hospitality is More Than Just Making a Pretty Home
So don’t just think that making a beautiful home is all you need to do to be hospitable. The thinking, “If you build it, they will come,” does not apply in this situation. Take a look at this older article for more on why we in America get hospitality wrong.
You’ve got to be willing to take care of the poor and needy. You’ve got to be willing to get your hands dirty.
He got down on His knees, even though He is the King and Creator of all things, and washed the feet of His disciples, showing humility, love, and service.
A clean carpet, fancy paintings, and leather furniture alone does not make you hospitable. In fact, it might make you vain.
So just be wary of your intentions.A clean carpet, fancy paintings, and leather furniture alone does not make you hospitable. Click To Tweet
Hospitality Means Shepherding
It’s taking care of them in many areas of their lives. Yes, meeting their physical needs. But also meeting their spiritual needs.
Be willing to show love during difficult times. Be willing to teach skills necessary for getting their lives together. Be willing to shepherd them in the faith.
Because putting food in their bellies and a roof over their head is good, but it will not save them from eternal punishment. Teaching them how to obtain and keep a job and rent an apartment is also good, but it will not renew their spirit.
Share the gospel along with the practical love of Christ, and help them to persevere in growing in their faith.
That is what your friends need. That is what your community needs. That is what your city needs.
That is hospitality.
Also published on Medium.