Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
— 1 Peter 4.8-9
What comes to your mind when you hear the word hospitality? For many of us, the first picture we see is having someone in our home for dinner — extended family, close friends, etc. While that is not inaccurate, it is important to know that the hospitality mentioned by the apostolic writers involves much more.
In the original language, hospitality comes from a word that literally means “to love strangers.” This takes the concept to a much higher level; one where we go beyond the circle of our closest friends and associates extending our kindness to those we do not know. In the gospel accounts, Jesus captured the true spirit of the word when he recited the parable of the great banquet:
“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.
— Luke 14:12–14
As you think about how to apply Jesus’ teaching and combine that with what Peter wrote, focus on the Christians right here among you. Think about members of our spiritual family outside of your normal circle of closest friends or family. Who is someone that you don’t know well? Is there a person or family new to the congregation that you could welcome? Is there someone grieving the loss of a loved one, suffering a physical challenge, or entering a new chapter in life that you could encourage? Who are some of our young people that you could get to know better? What better place to do this than in the comfort and warmth of your home?
Please note how Peter’s command in 1 Peter 4.9 is directly connected to the previous verse, which talks about loving one another earnestly. Hospitality is not just about an action, it’s also about an attitude. It expresses sacrificial love and an open heart that stretches and strains to go out of its way for others.
Many of us intend to follow through on this, but life often gets in the way and things get pushed back. Resist the urge to make any excuses. (Some don’t think their home is good enough / large enough, etc.) May what you’ve read here encourage you to be intentional and make an opportunity happen. You’ll be glad you did.