The practice of hospitality

abraham_angelsGenesis 18:2:  and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood over against him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the earth,

It is a wrong to have me-and- my-household-only mind-set. We should open our house to extend our spiritual and natural sphere of influence using a tool God has given us- our house.  If we have a generous heart, we would not be limited in our expression of hospitality. The writer of the book of Hebrews said that we should be ready to be hospitable (particularly to entertain strangers) because many have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:1-2).

That was exactly what happened to Abraham (Genesis 18:1-15, 21:1-8). He called on some people as he was sitting down in front of his house (they were on a journey) and forced them to enjoy his hospitality. And we have it recorded that the people he entertained were actually God and two angels (Genesis 18:1-19:1). And they released a blessing into his life. He had the answer to his long time desire- to have a child.

One of the qualifications for leadership is the readiness to express hospitality. This much was mentioned in the writing of Paul (1Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:9). But to the Romans, he wrote that each Christian (regardless of placement in church) must have the mind to be a blessing by being hospitable (Romans 12:13, 1Peter 4:9). It is the biblical injunction, and part of spiritual character formation. We are also told to distribute, i.e. share what we have with others (1Timothy 6:18).

Hospitality was the key to the miraculous supply of the widow of Zarephath, till the end of a three and a half years famine in her time (1Kings 17:8-16). There she was, picking up a few sticks to make fire to prepare what should be the last meal for her and her child, but she extended hospitality to Elijah as an act of faith and that was the end of lack in her life. Her hospitality was an act of faith which delivered a whole year of provision for her family, which now included Elijah. The visitor brought a blessing with him.

Another person had a similar experience, but now with Elisha, who was Elisha’s protégé. The woman had no child but she did not allow her need to make her bitter, she did not become a closed tap because of that, gathering rust (2Kings 4:8-17). She opened her house for the prophet to make a stopover anytime he was passing by. That provoked the prophet to speak a word into her life. Because she opened up her house for the prophet, her womb was opened up to bear a child.

Note that she was married and persuaded her husband to allow the man of God to stay sometimes in their house. It was a husband and wife team who saw to the need of the prophet. And they were so rewarded.

The bible says that whoever receives a prophet in the name of the prophet would have a prophet’s reward (Matthew 10:40-42, Mark 9:49), would enjoy the fruit of the mandate of God on the life of that prophet. That was this woman’s experience.

It also means that as she helped that ministry, she would receive the reward accruing to that ministry either now or on the judgment day.

There are rewards for the hospitable. Don’t be so caged by fear that God cannot flow into the life of others through you; let your being alive, be an advantage to someone.

The churches of the first century were encouraged to welcome itinerant preachers (2John 1:5-9), those who go out doing the work of God, taking nothing with them but seeking only to preach the word and establish the work of God wherever they go. We are to welcome such.

As Elisha enjoyed the hospitality of a couple; that was also the experience of Paul. Paul the apostle enjoyed the hospitality of a couple (Priscilla and Aquila) who housed him and he used their house as a base to launch into the work God has called him to do in a particular place (Acts 18:1-5).

At a time when ministry needs was becoming much, Jesus appointed certain of his disciples to do some work. He sent them to various places, asking them to take nothing with them, only depending on the hospitality of the people they meet. And whoever was hospitable to them would receive a blessing in return (Matthew 10:1-15). Such would not be ignored by God.

Jesus is an exemplar of hospitality, saying that in his father’s house there are many mansions and that he goes to prepare a place for us, and on coming back he would show us hospitality in his father’s kingdom; he was going to receive us into his father’s house (John 14:1-3).

He also wants you to express hospitality to him. He says he stands at the door and knocks and if anyone hears him, and opens the door (of the heart), he would come in and fellowship with them (Revelation 3:20). It is a bad thing to hear the voice of the Lord and not open your heart to me. That is against the principle of hospitality. You don’t want Jesus staying out in the cold, do you?.

Do you welcome Jesus?

Jesus told a person that birds have nests and a fox his hole but the Son of man (referring to himself) does not have a place to lay his head (Luke 9:57-58).  What he needs is where to place his head, where his headship would have full expression, where His supremacy will be complete and his expression unbridled.

That is what he needs. Do you reject his headship, leaving him “bodiless”? Is your heart conducive for the king of kings and the Lord of lords?

He says it in another place this way: that the person who obeys him, he and his father will come and make their abode with him (John 14:21-24).

Disobedience is the rejection of God. That was what God told King Saul (1Samuel 15:1-30); and when he rejected the word of God, the Spirit of God soon departed from him (1Samuel 16:14-15). Not because he wanted to, but because disobedience is a “not welcome here” sign, as far as the Holy Spirit is concerned.

That was why David was careful, after he sinned; (murdering Uriah after impregnating Beersheba his wife) to pray that God should not take his Holy Spirit away from him (Psalm 51). Because he did not want God, by his Spirit to leave him, he quickly repented. He doesn’t want to be disqualified from having God with him.

A church that is very hospitable to God, gives Him what He wants. He wants praise. The bible says that praise waits for God in Zion- the church (Psalm 65:1).

God also said that he dwells with the humble and the contrite in heart, with the lowly (Isaiah 57:15). So if you are proud and lifted up in your own heart, you render yourself unfit to house God.

Back to King Saul; he who became a bad example of the person who is not hospitable enough to house God. Samuel, while delivering God’s verdict against Saul, said that at the time he was chosen by God, Saul was little in his own eyes, but soon after he rebelled against Him, he became pompous suddenly.

Abraham had the reputation of being a friend of God (James 2:20-24) (a friend of course is the person you are comfortable with, that is normally hospitable to you, and you have enjoyed that a number of times); he was someone who was ready to welcome God anytime. This is because; God can make demand from him at anytime even to have his beloved child for “lunch (Genesis 22:1-19)”.

When God told him to listen to his wife, he did (Genesis 21:1-14).

Many people want to welcome Christ as the saviour but refuse to welcome him as Lord (John 10:9-10). They want what they can get from him and not what they would give to him.

But being hospitable means you, as the owner of the house, wait on the guest. That was what Abraham did. He waited on God. He did not just welcome God into his house and went on to do his own thing. When God is present, everything is about him. And you are the servant. The result is that those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength (Isaiah 40:29-31). No wonder Abraham and Sarah had strength to birth a child in their old age (Hebrews 11:11).

To wait on the Lord is see him as Lord. If not, you are not being hospitable.

We should be ready to serve God’s needs. One of it is to worship Him in Spirit and truth (John 4:21-24). That is hospitality when it comes to God.

 

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