artwork courtesy of the Disney Corporation
Romans 12:9-13 NIV
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
This paragraph starts with the statement, “Love must be sincere.” Everything else that follows is a manifestation of genuine and sincere love. I’m jumping to the end of the section because that is the focus of this article – hospitality.
The practice of hospitality is and has been a vital part of my Christian life. My wife and I both feel that everything we have truly belongs to the Lord, including our home, and therefore should be used as a means of extending grace to someone in need.
The Greek word for hospitality in this verse is philoneksía – from phílos, which means “friend” and xenos, which means “a stranger.” So actually what Paul is saying to do is be open and generous to strangers in the same way you would open your home to your friends. biblehub.com
When Jane and I built our current home in 1993, we specifically picked a lot that would allow for a full basement apartment. It was our intention from the very beginning to use that space as a place to help other people who might need a temporary home. It wasn’t until 1999 that the work was completed and we began to think and pray about who might be our first guest.
It just so happened that I started working as a volunteer with our church’s high school youth at about the same time that two college girls began volunteering. They were looking for a place to stay while they were in school, so we invited them to live with us. They wound up staying with us for the duration of their university years.
They were the first of many people that followed. We had missionaries on furlough, other friends from church, a teenage girl who had run away from home, friends of our teenage kids, a Peruvian family of five, divorcees, etc. Later it became our grown children and their spouses and children while they finished school.
It has now been about 15 years since we first opened our home. We’ve never charged rent or utilities and have no regrets for having been generous. Have we been taken advantage of? Certainly, at times. One or two may have been wolves in sheep’s clothing. But most of the people who have stayed with us have been respectful and grateful for the help they received and are now some of our dearest friends.
Our desire to share our home doesn’t mean that you ought to do the same. Each person must follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. If you do something out of obligation, then that is not love. Remember, love must be sincere.
Paul does suggest, however, that we are to practice hospitality in one form or another. It may mean hosting a weekly Bible Study or inviting new neighbors to dinner. There are many ways you can be hospitable. The first few times you do it may seem awkward. But as verse 13 says, “Practice hospitality.” The more you practice at something, the better you get.
Keep in mind that when you decide to be generous, there is always the possibility of a wolf knocking on your door. Don’t be afraid, but be cautious. And who knows? Your offering of hospitality may be the thing that changes them from a wolf to a dove.
Here’s to a new week, new opportunities for redemption. Don’t forget to practice your hospitality. Mugs up!!
Verse quotes courtesy of biblegateway.com