Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unaware Hebrew 13:1-2, KJV
Hospitality is defined by the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, 2006 as friendly and generous behaviour towards guests or food, drink or services that are provided by an organization for guests, customers etc. Katsina State in Nigeria is tagged, Home of hospitality. Everyone feels welcome when there are hospitable people around. Hospitality is the core of making life beautiful for people when they are far from home.
Hospitality in the Christendom is entertaining strangers and it goes beyond that, we would look at examples of hospitable people in the Bible and the result in the society at that time and we bring it to our contemporary life.
ABRAHAM AND THE ANGELS: Father Abraham has been set aside from his kindred from Genesis 12; he has been separated from his cousin, Lot in Genesis 13. This is an indication of his love for his relatives; he has paid his tithe to Melchizedek. God has made a covenant with him in Genesis 15. Abraham had a son through his wife’s maid, Hagar. Up to this point he was Abram by name. However it is obvious that he was a great man already, he had moved with God but he still got a message about the progress of his family as a result of his hospitality. The book of Genesis 18:1-11. It is the story of how Abraham entertained some guests; he called them into the house, gave them a threat and eventually they made him know that according to the time of life, Sarah shall have a son. We would not consider the unbelieving behaviour of Sarah but there is an important lesson, ENDEAVOUR TO TAKE CARE OF PEOPLE REGARDLESS OF YOUR SOCIAL STATUS, THEY COULD HAVE A MESSAGE FOR YOU.
RAHAB AND THE SPIES: Rahab is a prostitute. The equivalent of prostitution either as fornication or adultery is forbidden in the Bible. In the book of Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18, ‘thou shall not commit adultery’. Leviticus 20:10 reads, ‘if a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbour, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death’. It shows how abominable sex out of wedlock is scriptural even before we get to the time of Rahab.
In the book of Judges, a prostitute became hospitable and this was the turning point for her family. Her hospitality made her family separated at a time of destruction. Rahab had put her life on the line because of these spies by telling the assailants that they are not with her. She got connected with the vision of the spies and made a request that her soul should be preserved when they are taking over the land, Joshua 2:12-14. YOU CAN ALSO CONNECT WITH THE VISION OF YOUR GUESTS AND IN TURN GET THE LIVES OF YOUR FAMILY PRESERVED. Ultimately she was one of the matriarchs of David and ultimately, Jesus Christ.
JESUS CHRIST AND HIS MINISTRY: We must look at the hospitable Spirit and lifestyle of Jesus Christ if we want to complete this teaching about hospitality. Jesus never made anyone suffer; he gave children a space as well Matthew 19:13-15. He fed thousands of people to demonstrate hospitality Matthew 14:13-21, Matthew 15:32-39. He preached hospitality with a parable on the final judgement. Matthew 25:35-40, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was in prison and you came to me’. Vs 40, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ YOU MUST TAKE CARE OF EVERYONE WITHIN YOUR REACH.
PAUL AND HIS MINISTRY: Galatians 6:9-10 says,’ and let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap it, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith’. DO GOOD TO ALL CHRISTIANS.
Your hospitality to missions is also crucial, you support missions and the missionaries in prayer, II Thessalonians 3:1, Paul requested for prayers and also by housing missions. Paul stayed with Peter for fifteen days; this implies care for the missionary. I Corinthians 16: 19 talks about Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church in their house. You will truly be hospitable to have a church in your house. YOU SHOULD KEEP PRAYING AND CARING FOR MISSIONS AND MISSIONARIES.
The guest should not take hospitality for granted. This is also seen in the ministry of Paul, Philippians 4:16-19, he spoke of how his needs were met despite being far away. He also spoke about his profession, as a tent maker, Acts 18: 3, he resided with people of similar crafts. He was not lazy even as a missionary. Then, Paul kept in touch with his hosts from time to time, Colossians 4:7-18, he gave them updates through Tychicus while he, Paul, was updated through the same person. DON’T TAKE YOUR HOSTS FOR GRANTED, BE HARDWORKING DESPITE BEING CATERED FOR, AND KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOUR HOST.
When he was discussing the marks of true Christians, he mentioned in the book of Romans 12:13; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. It is also a crucial attribute of a Bishop, I Timothy 3:2; Paul admonished Timothy in this letter. Elders too are expected to be a lover of hospitality, Titus1:8. MINISTERS AND ELDERS MUST BE HOSPITABLE TO EVERYONE IN AND OUT OF HIS CONGREGATION; IT MUST BE A CHARACTER TRAIT OF THEIR PERSONALITY.
The book of II Timothy 1:16-18 Paul prayed for Onesiphorus for standing by him when he was in chains and ministered unto him in both Rome and Ephesus. YOU GET BLESSED WHEN YOU ARE HOSPITABLE.
Charge to all lovers about hospitality is in the book of I Peter 4:8-9, ‘above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. BE WILLINGLY HOSPITABLE WITH A FREE HEART.
SOLOMON AND THE QUEEN OF SHEBA: The great King Solomon, the prince of David, the person who built the temple gave in to the Queen of Sheba I Kings 10:1-13. He revealed all that he had to her. By the time we got to the book of I Kings 11:1-8, we found out that Solomon was no more in consonance with God. He started worshipping the idols introduced to him by all these foreign women. This led to God’s annoyance with him; the Kingdom was eventually torn into two. THE EASIEST WAY THE DEVIL HAS INTO YOUR LIFE IS THROUGH THE OPPOSITE SEX. MAKE SURE YOU DON’T ACCEPT EVERYTHING INTRODUCED TO YOU BY STRANGERS. Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, Ecclesiastes 12:1.
HEZEKIAH AND THE BABYLONIAN EUNUCHS: In the book of II Kings 20 and II Chronicles 32: 24-33. Hezekiah the King was at the point of death, he prayed and fasted, and then fifteen more years added unto him. The envoy of the King of Babylon came as friends but they were actually fiends. Unfortunately, Hezekiah showed them all the treasure of the land. The word of the Lord came to him that other generations after him would be slaves in Babylon. DON’T GET TOO CARELESS TO OPEN UP TOTALLY TO STRANGERS
Finally, in our quest for hospitality, we should understand that we are not expected to be that friend in the book of Luke11:5-12; where a friend arrived at midnight and made a request but he did not obliged until the friend persisted and he eventually harkened to his friend. IN AND OUT OF SEASON, EITHER IT IS CONVENIENT OR NOT, BE HOSPITABLE.
The Bible is full of hospitable people and lifestyle, let us emulate this lifestyle and make the world a better place. We would affect lives positively when we are given to hospitality. Remember, it is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts20:35.
(c)Olutayo IRAN-TIOLA, Lagos, Nigeria