Hospitality. I hope you will see in this article that hospitality is an attitude. It’s a way of living and interacting with other people. Each of the following episodes is an example from my life where I received true hospitality.
She called me “Brucie Whatoosie!” From the lips of anyone else, I would hate it. But coming from her it never ceased to make me smile. It was a name of endearment and meant acceptance and complete welcome. She was my best friend’s mom. We were just young teenagers, but I now realize how important it is for young teenage boys to have safe places to go, places where they can feel at total ease to be exactly who they are, pimples and all. All I had to do was walk into her kitchen and she would turn, bursting with a smile, and say “My Brucie Whatoosie! Come on in!”
He’s a prominent economist widely recognized in the profession as a leading contributor in his field. Each day, many hours before the sun rises, he would awake to immerse himself in God’s Word, to celebrate his salvation with acts of worship, and to empower the day with prayer. God’s gift to him is an ability to thrive with only a few hours of sleep each night. He is, as a result, the most productive individual I have ever met, able to accomplish far more than most could ever dream of doing.
I had the pleasure of his company working at the same school. After a while, I perceived there was a regular pattern emerging in our interaction. I always seemed to walk away from our interactions feeling better about myself, more hopeful about the future, and more encouraged about today. Professionally speaking, he was in an elite league, yet I felt welcome in his presence. He had a genuine interest in my welfare. I also recognized that our discussions were unbalanced in favor of my concerns and not by chance, but by the natural consequence of his attitude. He cared more about others than himself.
My professor offered to conduct our course in his home. Once a week our class would descend on his abode. There was always some light refreshment and a pot of coffee going for us. The class was held in his library, his personal sanctuary of learning. Occasionally he would go to one of the books, pull it off the shelf, open it to a familiar page, and, holding it like a dear friend, present to us some valued treasure of thought. The evenings would pass too quickly.
I am pretty sure that I started to love my wife before I started to love her mom but I’m not sure. It’s a close call either way. I dated my wife for five years before we married and as a result of our rather extended courtship, I wound up spending a lot of evenings in her home. I have vivid recollections of coming over on weekends and being greeted with the delicious smells of something freshly baked. It didn’t seem to take my wife’s mom very long to find out what I liked and enjoying good food was a common occurrence in her home. She had the ability to make you feel like it was prepared just for you.
The third letter of John in the Bible was written to Gaius, a man whose hospitality was recognized throughout the church and whose reputation has been preserved for us today to serve as both an example and encouragement to be hospitable people.
John writes to Gaius saying,
Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God . . . .We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth. (3 John 6; 8 NIV)
And Paul mentions him too: “Gaius, whose hospitality I, and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings” (Romans 16:23 NIV).
Gaius willingly opened his home and welcomed itinerant servants of the church who found themselves in need of a place to stay. Gaius was pleased to offer food, shelter, and whatever else might be needed. When they left, he sent them off in a manner that was befitting their service to the church.
Through the examples from my own life, and through what we hear from God’s Word about Gaius, it’s clear that hospitality is more than just the act of meeting physical needs. It’s an attitude.
Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:9-10 NKJV)
When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13 NLT)
Hospitality is a gift we give because we know we have received God’s welcome, so we welcome others. It’s an attitude of generosity, and not of grumbling. And, it’s something we practice and grow in.
Hospitality is manifested by the patterns of how we treat other people. When a person comes into our life, it’s an opportunity for us to either give or to take. We can use the encounter, however brief, to exclusively serve our own purposes or we can try to meet some need, large or small, for the other person as well.
Hospitable people always seem to be on the lookout for ways to help someone that crosses their path. Hospitality is oriented towards others:
Christians, as followers of Christ, should be the best examples of what it means to be hospitable. Hospitality tends to draw a crowd. Inhospitality inevitably repels people.
A wide range of people were drawn to Jesus. He attracted professionals and prostitutes, laborers and lawyers, men who hunted for fish and men who hunted for taxes. Women, men, and children of all stations of life were drawn to him.
To be sure, there was always a certain sense of uneasiness among the unholy when they were in close proximity to the Holy One. The proud, self-righteous, and rebellious were never at ease anywhere near him.
But sinners who were open to the work and ministry of Christ were truly comfortable in his presence. They sat at his feet, laid their head on his shoulder, and ate with him. In his presence, they felt welcome and when they went away, they were better for having been there.
Philippians 2 talks about the incredible hospitality of Jesus and how we ought to imitate him. It says,
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross. (2:4-8 NLT)
Jesus met our greatest need through his own act of enormous hospitality. He saved us from our sin’s power and punishment and made a way for our relationship with God to be forever mended.
If we are as hospitable as Jesus was, what a difference that could make in the world!
Like many things, I agree that hospitality is easier to talk about than it is to practice. You know what they say about practice—it makes perfect.
How about taking a few moments to reflect on those people in your own life who have exhibited this kind of hospitality? Maybe make a list of four or five, like the ones I shared with you.
It will bring a warm glow to your heart if nothing else. But I believe that these dear people in your own experience will confirm for you the importance of hospitality and will encourage you to go and do likewise. Thank God for them, and ask God to give you the gift of a hospitable heart.
We believe that the Father, by the Word, that is, by his Son, has created of nothing, the heaven, the earth, and all creatures, as it seemed good unto him, giving unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several offices to serve its Creator. That he does also still uphold and govern them by his eternal providence, and infinite power, for the service of mankind, to the end that man may serve his God.
He also created the angels good, to be his messengers and to serve his elect; some of whom are fallen from that excellency, in which God created them, into everlasting perdition; and the others have, by the grace of God, remained steadfast and continued in their primitive state.
The devils and evil spirits are so depraved, that they are enemies of God and every good thing, to the utmost of their power, as murderers, watching to ruin the Church and every member thereof, and by their wicked stratagems to destroy all; and are, therefore, by their own wickedness, adjudged to eternal damnation, daily expecting their horrible torments.
Therefore we reject and abhor the error of the Sadducees, who deny the existence of spirits and angels, and also that of the Manichees, who assert that the devils have their origin of themselves, and that they are wicked of their own nature, without having been corrupted.
We believe that the same God, after he had created all things, did not forsake them, or give them up to fortune or chance, but that he rules and governs them according to his holy will, so that nothing happens in this world without his appointment.
Nevertheless, God neither is the author of, nor can be charged with, the sins which are committed. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible, that he orders and executes his work in the most excellent and just manner, even then, when devils and wicked men act unjustly.
And, as to what he does surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire into, farther than our capacity will admit of; but with the greatest humility and reverence adore the righteous judgments of God, which are hid from us, contenting ourselves that we are disciples of Christ, to learn only those things which he has revealed to us in his Word, without transgressing these limits.
This doctrine affords us unspeakable consolation, since we are taught thereby that nothing can befall us by chance, but by the direction of our most gracious and heavenly Father; who watches over us with a paternal care, keeping all creatures so under his power, that not a hair of our head (for they are all numbered), nor a sparrow, can fall to the ground, without the will of our Father, in whom we do entirely trust (Matthew 10:29-31); being persuaded, that he so restrains the devil and all our enemies, that without his will and permission, they cannot hurt us.
And therefore we reject that damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God regards nothing, but leaves all things to chance.
We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after his own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy, capable in all things to will, agreeably to the will of God.
But being in honor, he understood it not, neither knew his excellency, but willfully subjected himself to sin, and consequently to death, and the curse, giving ear to the words of the devil. For the commandment of life, which he had received, he transgressed; and by sin separated himself from God, who was his true life, having corrupted his whole nature; whereby he made himself liable to corporal and spiritual death.
And being thus become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways, he has lost all his excellent gifts, which he had received from God, and only retained a few remains thereof, which, however, are sufficient to leave man without excuse; for all the light which is in us is changed into darkness, as the Scriptures teach us, saying: The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not: where St. John calls men darkness (John 1:5). Therefore we reject all that is taught repugnant to this, concerning the free will of man, since man is but a slave to sin, and has nothing of himself, unless it is given from heaven.
For who may presume to boast, that he of himself can do any good, since Christ says, “No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him” (John 6:44)?
Who will glory in his own will, who understands, that to be carnally minded is enmity against God (Romans 8:7)?
Who can speak of his knowledge, since “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14)?
In short, who dare suggest any thought, since he knows that we are not “sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but that our sufficiency is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5)?
And therefore what the apostle says ought justly to be held sure and firm, that God worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). For there is no will nor understanding, conformable to the divine will and understanding, but that Christ has wrought in man; which he teaches us, when he says, “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
We believe that, through the disobedience of Adam, original sin is extended to all mankind; which is a corruption of the whole nature, and a hereditary disease, wherewith infants themselves are infected even in their mother’s womb, and which produces in man all sorts of sin, being in him as a root thereof; and therefore is so vile and abominable in the sight of God, that it is sufficient to condemn all mankind.
Nor is it by any means abolished or done away by baptism; since sin always issues forth from this woeful source, as water from a fountain; notwithstanding it is not imputed to the children of God unto condemnation, but by his grace and mercy is forgiven them. Not that they should rest securely in sin, but that a sense of this corruption should make believers often to sigh, desiring to be delivered from this body of death.
Wherefore we reject the error of the Pelagians, who assert that sin proceeds only from imitation.
We believe that all the posterity of Adam being thus fallen into perdition and ruin, by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest himself such as he is; that is to say, merciful and just:
We believe that our most gracious God, in his admirable wisdom and goodness, seeing that man had thus thrown himself into temporal and eternal death, and made himself wholly miserable, was pleased to seek and comfort him, when he trembling fled from his presence, promising him that he would give his Son, who should be made of a woman, to bruise the head of the serpent, and would make him happy (Genesis 3:15).
We confess, therefore, that God did fulfill the promise, which he made to the fathers, by the mouth of his holy prophets, when he sent into the world, at the time appointed by him, his own, only-begotten and eternal Son, who took upon him the form of a servant, and became like unto man, really assuming the true human nature, with all its infirmities, sin excepted, being conceived in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, without the means of man, and did not only assume human nature as to the body, but also a true human soul, that he might be a real man.
For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that he should take both upon him, to save both. Therefore we confess (in opposition to the heresy of the Anabaptists, who deny that Christ assumed human flesh of his mother) that Christ is:
We believe that by this conception, the person of the Son is inseparably united and connected with the human nature; so that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in one single person: yet, that each nature retains its own distinct properties.
As then the divine nature has always remained untreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth: so also has the human nature not lost its properties, but remained a creature, having beginning of days, being a finite nature, and retaining all the properties of a real body.
And though he has by his resurrection given immortality to the same, nevertheless he has not changed the reality of his human nature; forasmuch as our salvation and resurrection also depend on the reality of his body. But these two natures are so closely united in one person, that they were not separated even by his death. Therefore that which he, when dying, commended into the hands of his Father, was a real human spirit, departing from his body. But in the meantime the divine nature always remained united with the human, even when he lay in the grave. And the Godhead did not cease to be in him, any more than it did when he was an infant, though it did not so clearly manifest itself for a while.
Wherefore we confess, that he is very God, and very Man: very God by his power to conquer death; and very man that he might die for us according to the infirmity of his flesh.
We believe that God, who is perfectly merciful and just, sent his Son to assume that nature, in which the disobedience was committed, to make satisfaction in the same, and to bear the punishment of sin by his most bitter passion and death.
God therefore manifested his justice against his Son, when he laid our iniquities upon him; and poured forth his mercy and goodness on us, who were guilty and worthy of damnation, out of mere and perfect love, giving his Son unto death for us, and raising him for our justification, that through him we might obtain immortality and life eternal.
We believe that Jesus Christ is ordained with an oath to be an everlasting High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:20); and that he has presented himself in our behalf before the Father, to appease his wrath by his full satisfaction, by offering himself on the tree of the cross, and pouring out his precious blood to purge away our sins; as the prophets had foretold.
For it is written: “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and numbered with the transgressors, and condemned by Pontius Pilate as a malefactor, though he had first declared him innocent.
Therefore: he restored that which he took not away, and suffered, the just for the unjust, as well in his body as in his soul, feeling the terrible punishment which our sins had merited; insomuch that his sweat became like unto drops of blood falling on the ground. He called out, “my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 26:46) and has suffered all this for the remission of our sins.
Wherefore we justly say with the apostle Paul: that we know nothing, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2); we count all things but loss and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose wounds we find all manner of consolation (Philippians 3:8).
Neither is it necessary to seek or invent any other means of being reconciled to God, than this only sacrifice, once offered, by which believers are made perfect forever. This is also the reason why he was called by the angel of God, Jesus, that is to say, Savior, because he should save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
We believe and confess also, that the Holy Spirit, from eternity, proceeds from the Father and Son; and therefore neither is made, created, nor begotten, but only proceeds from both; who in order is the third person of the Holy Trinity; of one and the same essence, majesty and glory with the Father, and the Son: and therefore, is the true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us.
We believe that our salvation consists in the remission of our sins for Jesus Christ’s sake, and that therein our righteousness before God is implied: as David and Paul teach us, declaring this to be the happiness of man, that God imputes righteousness to him without works. And the same apostle says, that we are “justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:24).
And therefore we always hold fast this foundation, ascribing all the glory to God, humbling ourselves before him, and acknowledging ourselves to be such as we really are, without presuming to trust in anything in ourselves, or in any merit of ours, relying and resting upon the obedience of Christ crucified alone, which becomes ours, when we believe in him. This is sufficient to cover all our iniquities, and to give us confidence in approving to God; freeing the conscience of fear, terror and dread, without following the example of our first father, Adam, who, trembling, attempted to cover himself with fig-leaves.
And verily if we should appear before God, relying on ourselves, or on any other creature, though ever so little, we should, alas! be consumed. And therefore everyone must pray with David: “O Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psalm 143:2).
We believe that this true faith being wrought in man by the hearing of the Word of God, and the operation of the Holy Spirit, does regenerate and make him a new man, causing him to live a new life, and freeing him from the bondage of sin.
Therefore it is so far from being true, that this justifying faith makes men remiss in a pious and holy life, that on the contrary without it they would never do anything out of love to God, but only out of self-love or fear of damnation. Therefore it is impossible that this holy faith can be unfruitful in man: for we do not speak of a vain faith, but of such a faith, which is called in Scripture, a faith that worketh by love, which excites man to the practice of those works, which God has commended in his Word (Galatians 5:6).
Which works, as they proceed from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, forasmuch as they are all sanctified by his grace: howbeit they are of no account towards our justification. For it is by faith in Christ that we are justified, even before we do good works; otherwise they could not be good works, any more than the fruit of a tree can be good, before the tree itself is good.
Therefore we do good works, but not to merit by them, (for what can we merit?) nay, we are beholden to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he that works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Let us therefore attend to what is written: when “ye shall have done all those things which are commended you, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10).
In the meantime, we not deny that God rewards our good works, but it is through his grace that he crowns his gifts. Moreover, though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them; for we do no work but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable; and at though we could perform such works, still the remembrance of one sin is sufficient to make God reject them.
Thus then we would always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences continually vexed, if they relied not on the merits of the suffering and death of our Savior.
We believe, that the ceremonies and figures of the law ceased at the coming of Christ, and that all the shadows are accomplished; so that the use of them must be abolished amongst Christian; yet the truth and substance of them remain with us in Jesus Christ, in whom they have their completion.
In the meantime, we still use the testimonies taken out of the law and the prophets, to confirm us in the doctrine of the gospel, and to regulate our life in all honesty, to the glory of God, according to his will.
We believe that we have no access unto God, but alone through the only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1), who therefore became man, having united in one person the divine and human natures, that we men might have access to the divine majesty, which access would otherwise be barred against us.
But this Mediator, whom the Father has appointed between him and us, ought in no wise to affright us by his majesty, or cause us to seek another according to our infancy. For there is no creature either in heaven or on earth who loveth us more than Jesus Christ; who, though he was in the form of God, yet made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a man, and of a servant for us, and was made like unto his brethren in all things (Philippians 2:6-7; Hebrews 2:17).
If then we should seek for another Mediator, who would be well affected towards us, whom could we find, who loved us more than he, who laid down his life for us, even when we were his enemies?
And if we seek for one who has power and majesty, who is there that has so much of both as he who sits at the right hand of his Father, and who has all power in heaven and on earth? And who will sooner be heard than the own well beloved Son of God?
Therefore it was only through distrust that this practice of dishonoring, instead of honoring the saints, was introduced, doing that, which they never have done, nor required, but have on the contrary steadfastly rejected according to their bounden duty, as appears by their writings.
Neither must we plead here our unworthiness; for the meaning is not that we should offer our prayers to God on the ground of our own worthiness but only on the ground of the excellency and worthiness of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is become ours by faith.
Therefore the apostle, to remove this foolish fear, or rather mistrust from us, justly says, that Jesus Christ was made like unto his brethren in all things, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:17). “For in that he himself has suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
And further to encourage us, he adds, “seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
The same apostle says, “having boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith… (Hebrews 10:19, 22)
Likewise, Christ has an “unchangeable priesthood, wherefore he is able also to save them to the utter most, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25).
What more can be required? since Christ himself says, “I am the way and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). To what purpose should we then seek another advocate, since it has pleased God, to give us his own Son as an advocate? Let us not for sake him to take another, or rather to seek after another, without ever being able to find him; for God well knew, when he gave him to us, that we were sinners.
Therefore according to the command of Christ, we call upon the heavenly Father through Jesus Christ our own Mediator, as we are taught in the Lord’s prayer; being assured that whatever we ask of the Father in his name, will be granted us.