Always be eager to practice hospitality. – Romans 12:13 (NLT)
The Bible teaches that God’s people are to practice hospitality. But often when we think of ways to demonstrate hospitality our thoughts are of hosting friends, family or neighbors for a celebration in our home. In this way, we miss the mark a bit. Hospitality – the Biblical sort – isn’t just about opening our home and preparing a table, it’s about opening our hearts and lives to welcome strangers. We practice hospitality when we treat outsiders like insiders.
There are two Greek words used in the New Testament that are translated as hospitality in our English versions – φιλόξενος (philoxenos) and its derivative φιλοξενία (philoxenia). These words contain a combination of two ideas: philos, one of four Greek words used to express love – in this case brotherly love or the kind of love you have for someone close to you; and xenos, a word used to describe people who are strangers and foreigners. So then, hospitality is when we treat outsiders and those who aren’t like us with the same sort of affection as we would those who are closest to us and most like us.
If we’re honest, hospitality by its very nature causes us to stretch our boundaries and reevaluate our need for them. It requires us to be intentional about not just demonstrating love to all people, but especially people who are foreign to us – people who come from different spaces than our own, people who do things differently than we do and value different things than we do.
When we practice hospitality we demonstrate the gospel itself – the good news that God is welcoming outsiders into his kingdom.
This week, be eager to practice a rhythm of hospitality – find ways to treat outsiders like insiders.
This may require some honest conversations with God about people who aren’t like you. Begin this week by praying and asking God to give you compassion and affection for the strangers in your life. Ask God to open your eyes to become more aware of them and especially more aware of their needs and the ways you can demonstrate love to them. On the whole, ask God to continue to grow your openness toward all people and dampen any “us vs. them” sort of thinking in your life.