Simple Hospitality // What is hospitality?

As we begin this series on Simple Hospitality one of the most important questions we should ask ourselves is what is biblical hospitality?  We need to have a clear understanding of that the bible says about hospitality as it will underpin everything else we talk about in this series.

Many of the posts that we will share in the weeks leading up to Christmas will be focussing on practical hints and tips to make providing hospitality just that little bit easier, but at its heart hospitality is not about perfect place settings, fluffy towels and tasty canap├ęs.  I wanted to see what my bible said about hospitality so I grabbed my concordance and noted down all the references I could find, and soon came to the conclusion that hospitality is all about loving others.

The word “hospitality” in the bible literally means “love of strangers” (Romans 12:13) and wherever it is mentioned it is inextricably linked with honouring and loving God by meeting the needs to other people.  In fact hospitality doesn’t really have to be about our home at all, it’s all about our hearts. Whenever we provide for the needs of others, through serving and giving of ourselves we are showing hospitality.

Here are some other things I picked up from my concordance search:

- hospitality is commanded (Romans 12:13)
- it should be done without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9)
- we should give freely without the expectation that our hospitality will be reciprocated (Luke 14:12-14)
- we are called to provide both for the physical and spiritual needs of those we may come across: neighbours, strangers, missionaries, the poor and needy and even enemies.  

If you had to give a split second answer to the question “what is hospitality?” I wonder what you would say? If I’m being honest my mind would probably flit immediately to something like tasty food, comfortable bed and nice surroundings. There is nothing wrong with those answers because sharing your home with others is a major part of hospitality, but after reading this bible passage they also seem a little shallow;

“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.’ Matthew 25:34- 40

Showing hospitality by loving others is more than important; it’s a crucial part of our faith. It’s so much more than keeping our houses tidy and preparing the perfect centre piece – it’s radical and life changing. Hospitality is about doing whatever we have to in order to show Jesus to the people around us.

So what are we waiting for?

This is the second  in a sixteen part series about Simple Hospitality. Join us next week as we explore what it means to prepare our hearts for hospitality.

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