At Work & Theology 101

Want to Practice Good Stewardship? Seek Opportunities to Show Hospitality.

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Hospitality is an important issue of stewardship. In fact, opening up the home to invite others in can actually be one of the most practical ways to practice good stewardship.

Is showing hospitality just something that logically makes sense, or is it something that God specifically commands us to do?

While the breaking of bread with others, the sharing of our resources, and the welcoming of others into our homes are certainly things that find support within the broad, general scope of Christian love, hospitality has a strong biblical foundation as well.

I Peter 4:9 and Romans 12:13 are two particular passages that speak to hospitality.

Seek Out Opportunities to Show Hospitality

Romans 12:13 says,

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Paul includes verse 13 in a list of other similar exhortations, including “let love be genuine,” “abhor what is evil,” and “be constant in prayer,” among others.

Something to make note of in this passage is how Paul phrases his exhortation regarding hospitality. He doesn’t merely say, “be hospitable.” He says, “seek to show hospitality.”

That word “seek,” when used elsewhere in scripture, is actually most commonly translated as “persecute.” It’s interesting how a word can have the potential for both positive and negative connotations, depending on its context.

The fact that the semantic range of this word includes “persecute” (as well as “to pursue” and “to chase”) shows the sheer intensity of this call to “seek.”

Paul is not telling believers to be hospitable merely when it’s convenient. He is telling them to go out of their way to be hospitable – to intentionally find and seize opportunities to show love to others through hospitality.

This may come as a surprise to many of us, especially because we may try to limit the scope of Paul’s exhortation to those with a special “host/hostess gifting.” However, this verse does not fall within Paul’s earlier discussion about differing gifts.

Earlier in chapter 12, Paul explains that believers have “gifts that differ according to the grace given to us” and goes on to name a few examples (service, teaching, exhortation, etc. See verses 6-8).

However, he switches gears in verse 9, addressing the Church with broad commands that apply to all, regardless of unique gifting.

For example, a man cannot excuse himself from loving other believers with brotherly affection (v. 10) or from the call to rejoice in hope (v. 12) simply because he is gifted differently than another.

Thus, Paul’s exhortation to pursue opportunities to show hospitality should cause us to reexamine a bit. Maybe this means that you need to offer to host the next gathering for your small group. Maybe it means that you need to invite one of your coworkers over for dinner with you and your family.

Rather than waiting for opportunities to present themselves, let us seek them out ourselves.

Hospitality and Joy Go Hand-in-Hand

In 1 Peter 4:9, there is an additional aspect added into the mix: “show hospitality…without grumbling” (emphasis added).

This may come as a punch in the gut to some of us. Perhaps hospitality is not something that you naturally gravitate towards. Perhaps you know it is something you would only do reluctantly.

This second exhortation removes the potential for justifying legalistic hospitality. It shuns hospitality that says, “I know I should invite that new family at church over for dinner… I don’t really want to, but it’s the ‘Christian’ thing to do.”

This is not the heart of God. He desires that we be open with what we have been given. Good stewardship uses what he has given to bless others, and does so with joy. “God loves a cheerful giver…” (2 Corinthians 9:7), and what is hospitality but giving of yourself and your belongings cheerfully?

Both Paul and Peter rally for genuine Christian love, which, when shown through hospitality, holds the same characteristics as any other genuine outpouring of love: willing, joyful, generous, determined, persistent, and sacrificial.

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