I believe that most Christian women want to be known for having a hospitable spirit and home but just don’t know where to begin. Many women limit themselves into thinking their home is too small, their budget does not allow, or their husbands are not as hospitable as they would like. However, this thinking has nothing to do with biblical hospitality.
The word hospitality can mean so many different things. According to Webster’s dictionary hospitality is more associated with entertainment or it is a term relating to business services. Over time, hospitality has turned into a secular matter rather than a biblical principle displayed through an act of service. According to scripture, hospitality (Gk. philoxenia, “love of strangers”) is the practice of welcoming and sheltering with no thought of personal gain.
What is Biblical Hospitality?
The general idea of hospitality within the current public square is identified as an industry such as a career in hotel or food management. These ideas are not true hospitality either. This type of hospitality is looking for something in return such as a profit or a five star customer satisfaction rating. Dr. Dorothy Patterson states that the term biblical hospitality is “the unselfish desire to meet the needs of others.” The key word mentioned in her definition is unselfish.
Showing biblical hospitality is not about the provider, it is about the one who is being served. Biblical hospitality is defined in Scripture as a way to evangelize and disciple one another, a duty expected for all Christians, and a vivid picture of Heaven.
Tool for Evangelism and Discipleship
A popular scripture that is posted near the doorway of many homes comes from Joshua 24:15 (NKJV), “…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Serving others and serving the Lord is a worshipful act. Evangelism and discipleship is an intentional act. When many think of evangelism and discipleship, they think that it is merely an act of going out to highways and hedges proclaiming Christ. So often the home is abandoned and not thought about as a place where evangelism and discipleship can take place. The home can become a perfect place to display hospitality and be a silent and vocal witness for the cause of Christ.
Biblical hospitality is not about abandoning the relationship between friends, but intentionally going out and seeking to find strangers and hosting them as well. Now this does not mean we use paper products and a pallet on the floor for strangers but fine china and a lavish guest room for our friends. Christians are to see everyone they come in contact with as a soul and potential discipleship opportunity.
Duty of All Christians
For some people the gift of hospitality is as natural as breathing. For others, hospitality is something that has to be practiced day after day. No matter what category you find yourself in, hospitality is a spiritual gift given to all believers and commanded to all believers. Nowhere in Scripture do we find exceptions due to age, gifting, availability, or gender. Displaying hospitality is clearly commanded by Paul and Peter throughout the New Testament. Romans 12:13 states, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Because hospitality is a spiritual gift and commanded to all believers, God equips the believer with the hospitable attitude and the capability to seek those that need comfort in a time of heartache.
Not only is a believer to show hospitality, she is to do this without grumbling and with a good heart. 1 Peter 4:9-10 states, “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Some people only want to be hospitable and welcoming on their own timing. They want to invite people over and have time to prepare, this idea is entertaining. Believers are called to always be prepared. Because hospitality is a command, there are times it becomes a checklist. Instead of looking at hospitality as a service, it becomes a duty or meaningless activity. Being a willing servant is the beginning of biblical hospitality.
In the last fifteen years, we have fashioned our homes much like businesses. We have placed open and closed hours on our homes. If you have been in the ministry long enough, you may have realized that the ministry does not follow specific hours. Consoling a church member after the death of a loved one does not wait until you have cleaned your home and have had a morning cup of coffee. Comforting a friend after her husband left her may not wait until sunrise. Our homes are to be always open and available to minister at every hour of the day.
Picture of Heaven
In the Bible, a home was considered a place of refuge for a weary traveler. On his long journey, a Christian traveler would seek out other believers to host him for protection and rest in the harsh conditions. All throughout scripture there are illustrations of refuges provided by God, and many of these same qualities are characteristics of the Christian home.
A Christian home is called to be a place of worship, fellowship, safety, refuge, and a place that clearly communicates the gospel. By displaying hospitality in our homes and churches, Christians are providing a safe refuge for non-believers. Though the word hospitality does not appear in the Old Testament, this idea is carried throughout as the chief bond that brought all groups unified for one purpose. In the New Testament, the practice of hospitality was crucial and played a vital role in the life of Jesus and the early church.
When I think of true biblical hospitality, my mother-in-love, Mrs. Renee’ Pigg is the first to come to mind. I always look forward to visiting her and being welcomed with a basket on the dresser of our favorite snacks, magazines, toiletries, towels, lotions, etc. She always makes it a point to take care of the little things such as stocking the closet with extra pillows and blankets and cooking the good ole comfort foods. She considers it a blessing to minister not only to us but also to our souls. My husband and I always leave refreshed and encouraged to come back and share that same love with our church members and friends.
Biblical hospitality is something that should bring glory to the name of God and rest for those who are weary. Ladies, we should be more concerned with ministering to others than whether our homes are clean and our shows are recorded. Pray that the Lord opens your heart and home for the opportunity to minister, for the reward is great.
*Previously published on Biblical Woman.