Practice Christian Hospitality

Practice Christian Hospitality

Preacher Huijun - 29 January 2022

Weekend Devotion: Practice Christian Hospitality

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Chinese New Year is approaching next week. During this festive season, there will be a lot of visitations and gatherings with loved ones. It is also at such times that we are reminded to be hospitable to people around us, to be willing to show them concern and even open our homes to others. (1 Pe 4:9-10) encourages us to: Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. Notice the words “without grumbling”, it is not hard to understand why Peter urged believers not to grumble, because when we want to be hospitable, it will be accompanied by many chores, preparation, cleaning up, not to mention the extra expenses and time needed.

Yet the Bible keeps urging believers to practice hospitality. Another one is (Heb 13:1-2), which says: Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. The verse could be making reference to Abraham and Sarah who had extended hospitality to three strangers, without knowing that they were in fact sent by the Lord (Gen 18). Indeed, as we show hospitality to others, we may unknowingly do it unto the Lord (Mt 25:40), and He will be sure to reward us in His time.

 

What is meant by hospitality?

The Greek word for hospitality means “loving strangers”. Thus, two key things here: “love” and “strangers”. Therefore, to extend hospitality means to love people who are not in our comfortable circle of contacts, people whom we are unfamiliar with, people who are different from us. Furthermore, Christian hospitality is different from secular one in the sense that Christians practice hospitality with the aim of bringing people (whether they are non-Christians or believers) closer to Christ. We are not merely hosting some home parties or doing mere charity work, but Christian hospitality is seriously related to evangelism and disciple-making. We love others with the hope that they may consider accepting Christ’s gospel, or to encourage believers to persist in their faith journey with God. Importantly, offering hospitality is also a practical way for us to love our neighbour as ourselves.

 

Challenges in showing hospitality.

1) Our sinful, selfish nature.

Being sinners, it is easy for us to neglect hospitality as we are prone to be self-absorbed, wanting to guard our time and resources for ourselves. Our sinful nature makes us lazy, selfish and reluctant to show love to families and friends, much less to strangers. To counter our selfishness, we must look to our most loving God and be moved by His great hospitality to us. We used to be “separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope” (Ep 2:12), but Christ loved us while we were still strangers to His covenant. So although loving others is difficult, our hospitality to others is a form of expressing our thanks to the God who has mercy on us. Thus, hospitality is about putting ourselves down, practicing servanthood, and loving others through the love we receive from Christ.

 

2) “I’m an introvert, I don’t know how to engage people.”

It is true that some people just love hanging out with people and having guests over at their houses. However, some people prefer quietness, or they may feel very tense trying to host or talk to people. Thus, hospitality becomes a burden for such people. However, God’s command to love people is for all Christians, not just the extroverts. Furthermore, we need not think of hospitality in grand terms, it can take very simple forms, as I will share later.

 

3) “I do not have much to offer.”

Some people might have enjoyed such superb hospitality from someone else and thus felt inadequate to present the same quality of good food and cosy environment to host people in their houses. Or they may feel they do not have good enough supplies or spiritual counsel to offer those in need. However, God doesn’t tell us to show hospitality only when we have the best resources. But He wants us to “use whatever gift we have received to serve others”. God has given each of us His “grace in its various forms” and we are to be His faithful stewards to use whatever He has given us to bless others.

 

How can we practice hospitality?

1) Hospitality can take many forms and can start small.

We can show others love in various ways: inviting them to coffee or meal, giving them a listening ear, providing them with supplies they need, paying attention to them when they are neglected in a community or when they are troubled. Although hospitality is usually associated to inviting people over to our house, it is not just restricted to that, as loving strangers can also mean visiting a stranger at his home, to bring him what he needs, be it prayers, companionship, food, supplies, etc. Thus, hospitality can start small. It can be simply greeting a new colleague in office, or befriending a newcomer in church, to make him feel welcome. Anyone can show simple hospitality and little acts of love. Loving others is not a “gift” that only certain people possess. Thus, we all have no excuse not to practice hospitality.

Besides offering “active hospitality” like what’s mentioned above, we can also make ourselves available for others to “interrupt” us when they have a need. Let others know that they are welcome to find you whenever they need your help. Making ourselves available is a form of passive hospitality. We can extend both active and passive hospitality.

 

2) Show hospitality not just to people we like, but to those who cannot repay us.

In (Luke 14:12-14), Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

True hospitality is not just loving people whom we prefer, it is not just inviting the same group of close friends to our house over and over again, but God wants us to reach out to even people unfamiliar to us, people with different background, status, interests from us, people who may not repay our kindness. We serve them so that they can be drawn to the love and salvation of God through our hospitality.

So this Chinese New Year, pray and ask God to move our hearts to show hospitality to people around us. It could be those who have yet to hear the good news of God’s salvation, or it could be those who are lonely and grieving when others are celebrating, or it could be those whose families are not with them during this festive season, pray about how we can open our homes, our lives and even our calendars to them. Never underestimate how little acts of love can touch lives and draw them to God. May God use us all in the area of showing hospitality to one another as well as to strangers!

Preacher Huijun
Preacher Huijun
huijun@lifechurchmissions.com

Huijun joined The Life Church and Missions (Singapore) as a preacher in 2012. She is effectively bilingual and preaches occasionally at the Chinese service. She graduated from Singapore Bible College and currently lives in Singapore with her husband, Chengji.

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