“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9 NIV).
Phew – You’ve got this one down.
After all your parties rock.
You get compliments on your entertaining skills.
People have even told you to take up event planning as a career!
But is this how the Bible defines hospitality?
There is a woman in the Bible who provides an example for all of us to follow regarding hospitality. In fact, Peter (who wrote this verse) knew this woman. I wonder if he thought about her example when he admonished us to be hospitable.
Her name was Dorcas, also known as Tabitha, which means gazelle. The name suits her. Gazelles are social animals and prefer to live in large herds. Similarly, Dorcas loved being around people and was beloved by the community.
There are only seven verses dedicated to this exceptional woman, but we can glean a lot from them; including the fact she was a skilled seamstress who used her talent to clothe the poor – particularly widows. (Acts 9: 36- 39)
You can sense that her home was open to all and that she enjoyed fellowship, especially with her sisters in Christ. Yes, she exemplified 1 Peter 4:9. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (NIV).
Dorcas is one of my favorite women of the Bible. However, I am nothing like her. I can barely sew a button on a shirt and am tempted to throw away slacks that need to be hemmed. Then there is the hospitality thing.
Do I offer hospitality without grumbling? I have to say: not always.
Let me explain. I have an excuse that others can’t claim. You see I took the Myers-Briggs personality test; you know the one where you are given four letters that describe your personality type.
My first letter was “I.” Years later, I took it a second time, but the letter didn’t change. Yes, I’m an introvert.
Don’t misunderstand, I like people and enjoy spending time with friends and family, but I have limits. When constantly surrounded by people I’m drained and stressed.
If I don’t have time to re-energize, it takes every fiber of my being to keep talking and be pleasant. Extroverts can’t understand the need to get away to rejuvenate because they’re energized when they’re with people.
Now I know Myers-Briggs says there is no right or wrong letter, but let’s face facts – extroversion is valued by the world and in the church too. It leaves me asking if we introverts are less loving or faithful in our walk with God.
So, what’s a Christian introvert to do? The Bible clearly encourages, even requires, hospitality. And I don’t think God accepts excuses.
As I studied this mandate in Scripture I discovered something. Philoxenia is the Greek word used in the New Testament for “hospitality.” Literally, the word combines the roots for “love” and “stranger.” Romans 12:13 gives some insight too:
“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality (NIV).
So it’s not all aboutFOODDECORATIONS
God isn’t telling us to spend all our time at church functions or to be a party girl. God is telling us to love strangers and Paul makes it clear that genuine hospitality is helping those in need. Once again, we can look to Dorcas as our example: “she was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor” (Acts 9:36b NIV).
So today we are examining Scriptures about hospitality. Introverts will be happy to know that the Bible defines hospitality very differently than the world. As we study these verses we will explore ways to be hospitable – biblical style. These suggestion are actions that both introverts and extroverts can do. So everyone should read on.
“Greet also the church that meets at their house” (Romans 16:5 NIV).
Here Paul is talking about a group of believers who met in Priscilla and Aquila’s home. While home churches are gaining popularity, the majority of Christians still worship in churches. So how do we follow Priscilla and Aquila’s example? Are home Bible studies and church socials the only way to emulate this couple?
How about making the church a hospitable place to worship for members and guests alike?
– Show up for cleanup days.
– A nursery is a chaotic place. To help nursery workers and provide a pleasant atmosphere for the children, volunteer to clean the toys and keep the area organized.
– Donate toys to the nursery and books to the church library.
– Help prepare meals for funerals. This ministry was a blessing to me when my parents died.
– Plan a community outreach program e.g. show a movie in the churchyard for the neighbors, invite people in community to a picnic or dinner, staff your nursery at Christmas time so busy families can shop without kids in tow, get a group of volunteers willing to drive people to doctors appointments or the grocery store, etc.
Priscilla and Aquila were known for the hospitable natures. So I am sure they made their home a welcoming place for those who came to worship, learn, and grow in Christ. We can do the same at our place of worship while serving our church family.
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2 NIV).
Have you ever felt like you missed an opportunity to show the love of Jesus to someone? I know I have many times. We are too busy or scared to help. Sometimes the people in need are so different from us we allow our comfort to be an excuse not to reach out.
So here are some ways we can help a stranger and hopefully share Jesus too:
– Help a person with a flat tire.
– If a person doesn’t have enough money to pay for an order, offer to cover their deficit.
– Cook or deliver for Meals on Wheels. Isn’t this the same as providing food for a stranger?
– Go to a nursing home and visit residents. Listen to their stories, assist them with their mail, take them for a walk, etc.
“She said to her husband, ‘I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, and chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us’” (2 Kings 4:9-10 NIV).
The Shunammite woman offered respite to the prophet, Elisha. We can open our home to guest speakers visiting our church, but there are other ways to offer respite for our pastors and others in ministry.
– Offer to watch children for a night out.
– Offer services like home repairs, lawn care, or cooking to lighten their load.
– Volunteer in the church office e.g., fold bulletins, put messages on the prayer chain, make copies, order supplies, etc.
– Send money directly to missionaries to use at their own discretion.
– Donate your frequent flyer miles to missionaries for a trip home or to your pastor for a vacation.
So when you read about hospitality in the Bible take a different view and be creative. You can obey even if you aren’t a party girl!
As always comments are welcome. See you next time.