Applying the Character Quality of Hospitality

Hospitality vs. Unfriendliness

3 min

Hospitality is using what God has given to us to demonstrate His love for others.

One of two Greek words translated hospitality is philoxenos. Philos means “friend,” and xenos means “foreign (lit. alien, or fig. novel); by impl. a guest (or vice-versa) entertainer.” Hospitality is a concern for the welfare of those who are in need of food, clothing, or shelter. In Scripture, philoxenos could be appropriately translated “caring for strangers as if they were close friends or loved ones.”

What Is Hospitality?

Jesus taught the principle of hospitality by saying, “When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:12–14).

Hospitality should be a natural response of those who practice the teachings of Jesus, because hospitality demonstrates the love and light of God. Love and light do not choose their recipients; they are available to all who need them.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43–48).

The same message is given in James. “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:15–16).

Guidelines for Hospitality

Even though believers are to have a spirit of hospitality and demonstrate hospitality to all who need it, there are specific restrictions about the type of people who are to be brought into a believer’s home.

  1. A believer is not to eat a meal with another believer who persists in immoral behavior. “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat” (See I Corinthians 5:11.)
  2. One who promotes false doctrine is not to be brought into the home. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (II John 10).
  3. A believer is not to have fellowship with an openly immoral or angry person. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Ephesians 5:11–12). “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go” (Proverbs 22:24).

The Key to Developing Hospitality

The ultimate reward of showing hospitality is knowing that whenever we provide food, clothing, or shelter for one of the least in God’s kingdom, we are doing it unto Christ.

“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. … Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:35–40).

The ultimate reward of showing hospitality is knowing that whenever we provide food, clothing, or shelter for one of the least in God’s kingdom, we are doing it unto Christ.

Personal Evaluation

  • Have you purposed to develop a spirit of hospitality and to use your home to demonstrate it?
  • Have you removed from your home clutter that would be a distraction to visitors?
  • Have you taught each member of your family to practice proper etiquette whether or not there are visitors in the home?
  • When you invite others into your home, is your goal to make them comfortable, or is it to impress them with your home?
  • During conversation, do you focus on the interests of your guests or on the things you and your family have done?
  • Do you have a peaceful atmosphere in your home, with appropriate music and a spirit of harmony among family members?
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