Hospitality really does matter. God was giving His people a good gift when He commanded it. Don’t believe me? Check out these 18 reasons to be hospitable today!
Hospitality at the End of the World
“It’s the end of the world! So, invite someone to dinner.”
I’ve heard this before but this week my new pastor said it and it got me thinking…
This quote is in reference to 1 Peter 4:7-9 (we talk about this passage around here A LOT):
“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
When we think hospitality is the same as frivolous entertaining, lacking depth of relationship, it is easy to wonder why God would say such a thing.
Why does God care so much about whether or not His people are hospitable? Aren’t there other, more important things we can be doing since “the end of all things is near”?
Well, truthfully the answer is no. Hospitality matters. A lot.
And today I want to encourage your heart a little with 18 reasons to be hospitable.
Reasons To Be Hospitable
Because the Bible tells me so…
Even if we don’t understand it completely, we can see from the Bible that God considers hospitality to be very important work. And so the first reason we should practice hospitality is because God has told us too. We take it on faith that He is good in all His requirements of His people and He desires our good. So, we honor Him by following in simple obedience.
2. Glorify God
The Westminster Shorter Catechism’s young child edition asks the question, “How can you glorify God?” And it answers, “By loving Him and and doing what He commands”.
We can glorify God in our obedience to His command to be hospitable. Through it we also ascribe Him glory as we speak about Him with those we gather with.
3. Cultivate Community
We talk about this A LOT here but the truth is that Christians are meant to live life in community. We are meant to be together. We are not supposed to live life alone. Through hospitality we can begin the work of cultivating real and lasting community.
“Hospitality is fundamentally an act of missional evangelism.” – Rosaria Butterfield
I believe this statement wholeheartedly. The fact is that our world is aching for real relationships and extended hands. It is in that context we will be able to bless the dying world around us for the glory of God.
It is through open doors and seeing into our real, genuine Christian lives that people will hear the gospel message shared over the long haul and I believe it is a beautiful way to spark evangelistic opportunities.
5. Because it Gives us a Good Testimony
John 13:35 says that the world will know we are Christ’s disciples by our love one to another.
How will they see that love? It is important that Christian love exist within the walls of the church for a lot of reasons but, the truth is, most unbelievers won’t start by coming to the inside of your church.
That means that if they are going to encounter unique Christian love that points to Christ, they must see it in our everyday interactions. Hospitality is a perfect place to display that.
An unbeliever can see that we are different because of Christ when our homes are filled with people who look different, sound different, come from different cultures, and different socio-economic backgrounds but we offer it all with genuine love and care.
When Christian love is our bond, it displays the gospel to the watching world. Practically speaking, hospitality is one of the biggest ways the world will see this.
Not only is hospitality critical to evangelization but it is also critical to our discipleship.
We are commanded in Matthew 28:19-20 to “Go therefore and make disciples.”
Where do we do that? Honestly, the most natural way to make disciples is exactly the way Christ did – living life together.
No, most of your discipleship prospects won’t be able to put their lives on hold for 3 years to follow you around, but they should have access to you. They should be able to see how you deal with unforeseen circumstances when they arise and how you put your kids to bed at night and what you do for your personal time in God’s Word. They should watch you mess up and ask for forgiveness and they should have many hours of genuine conversation with you.
Those things happen in hospitality. As we extend hospitality to one another, discipleship flows naturally.
7. Learn About Different People and Customs
I love to learn about different people and customs and a sweet friend shared with me an idea recently that I loved! She said that she always invites missionaries over to her home when they are passing through her area. When they come, she buys all the necessary ingredients for a meal from their new culture and then she asks them to teach her family how to make it.
I LOVE this idea and I feel like my children would just be over the moon to have this kind of experience.
A different friend of mine accomplished something similar when she hosted an international pot luck. Everyone who came brought a dish to share from a different culture. It was so fun to learn about the people who came and where they had visited or would love to go. It provided excellent conversation starters and we learned about different cultures.
8. Be an example
I desperately want my children to grow up loving Christ AND His church. I know it is not my responsibility to save them but it is my fervent prayer that they would come to know and love Christ.
With that said, I want to be an example of Christian faith and conduct to my children in every area and hospitality has been one of the most beautiful ways for me to do that.
Through hospitality I can show my children that no matter what makes a person different, they are all welcome in Christ’s family. I can show them that the church is beautiful and worth fighting for. I can show them that Christ is worth giving up evening entertainment and comfortable situations for something He promises is better (human connection through hospitality).
But through hospitality my children can also see that it is not only mommy and daddy who worship and love Jesus. There are other people who live their lives in a similar manner. Through this they experience Christ’s church in an especially unique way that hopefully will draw their hearts.
9. Contribute to the needs of the saints
Romans 12:13 says, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
The truth is hospitality is one of the ways we can contribute to the needs of the saints. We don’t have to meet all the needs of everyone we know. But if everyone in the church contributes some then the needs will be met in abundance.
Hospitality is one of the ways we do this and it is able to meet a variety of needs. Through hospitality we meet the need for human relationship and interaction. We help people see that they are known and loved.
We can also (as we will talk about in a minute) bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
We meet the physical need for food if we are hosting with a meal. For some people this is a big blessing, but God provides every meal we eat no matter how much is in our bank account so it is really just as big of a blessing for the rich person whether they recognize it or not.
We might even be meeting the need for shelter depending on the circumstance.
The truth is, hospitality is our opportunity to contribute to our own needs (we get the blessings of relationship too!) and the lives of those around us.
10. Fight Isolation and Loneliness
Isolation and loneliness are growing problems in our society. As we are drawn further into American individualism and a virtual world, we are more and more removed from real, personal relationships. With this comes an extreme form of isolation and loneliness that can leave us feeling defeated.
Social media has a lot of great elements to it and, having recently moved, I have a whole new love for the way it connects to family and friends far away.
BUT, it is not a replacement for real life interactions the way we sometimes act like it is.
Hospitality allows us to fight the isolation and loneliness that our society so often inadvertently encourages. It forces us into human relationships and it means that, for a little while at least, we and those we host have what we need to to feel known and seen.
Hospitality is a means of growth. Through offering hospitality regularly we grow in our understanding of the ministry we are undertaking. We grow in our welcome.
But beyond that, whenever we are in close proximity with others who offer a different perspective and different understanding, we have the chance to grow personally.
We can grow in our understanding of the world but, most importantly, we can grow in our knowledge and love for Christ.
12. Reveal Christ’s Character
Hospitality is a great place for us to put on display the character of Christ. We will, of course, do this very imperfectly. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. The Lord is gracious and, in our stumbling, we are able to shine a light into a darkened world.
It should be our aim that the hospitality we offer would help our guests see how Christ invites them to the table. We should focus our efforts on loving others well in our ministry of hospitality so that they can see a tiny glimpse of the love of Christ.
13. Develop Empathy
We have talked about this before. I believe that developing empathy is a HUGE benefit of regularly hosting people who are different from you.
If you host people of different ethnicities and develop real relationships, prejudices are slowly broken down. The same is true if we host people who have different economic standing then we do or have a different background and even people with a different belief system.
We are real people battling real issues and we need others in our journeys. That is how God designed us. And, since we all bear His image, we all have value.
I believe regularly hosting is one of the best ways to develop a genuine empathy for others.
14. Have Honest Conversation
Hospitality is a beautiful place to have open and honest dialogue. Let’s be real, it is HARD to have civil, fruitful conversations about difficult subjects on social media.
When you need to address a difficult subject, it is so much more fruitful when you are able to sit across the table from someone. You get to see the pain on their face as they discuss their reasonings and what brought them to this situation. You can hear the inflection in their voices when they talk address your responses.
It is much harder to be harsh when you are looking into someone’s eyes.
And it is much easier to be compassionate.
Because of that, the table or the living room is the perfect context for having these conversations.
No one signs into social media to have their minds changed about anything. In fact, our news feeds are usually catered around giving us a lot of what we agree with and just enough of what we disagree with to give us cause to come back.
But real conversation is different. In this context we can learn and grow and encourage one another and honest communication is much more possible.
15. Bear One Another’s Burdens
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
We touched on this for a minute earlier but hospitality is the perfect context in which we are able to truly bear one another’s burdens.
When we share a meal and talk, we also share the burdens of our hearts and we are able to bear them together.
If you’ve ever picked anything heavy up, you know it is easier to carry if you have someone else with you doing some of the lifting.
That is the idea God is getting at. It is easier to carry the burdens of this life if we don’t do it alone. Hospitality is a context in which we are able to truly pick up part of someone’s else’s load and they can do the same for us.
16. Increase Happiness
No, hospitality will not always be happy. And there are a lot of times when we will need to be hospitable knowing that we are walking into a challenging situation. However, hospitality can be used of God to increase our happiness. And it often has been used that way in my life!
One of our favorite ways to host is with a game night. These are always filled with a lot of laughs. Sometimes serious conversation is woven throughout but other times it is just silly and fun and we end the night with light hearts.
Even if you don’t want to plan a game night though, everyday hospitality can also genuinely increase our happiness. Through it we tell stories and just enjoy connection.
17. Build Lasting Friendships
Hospitality can and should be offered to our existing friends. However, it cannot stop there. We need to also offer hospitality to those who are different from us. Through these efforts, we may be surprised at the lasting friendships that develop. God can bind hearts in unusual ways. Hospitality is the open door for these kinds of relationships to blossom and grow.
18. Allow Us to be Real
It is really hard to have a pretext of perfection inside your home regularly. Sometimes we can get away with it when we only host once in awhile but if we host regularly the time will come when guests will see into our real lives.
Our kids won’t behave perfectly. Our meal won’t turn out the way we hoped. Our home will look like we live in it.
And all of those challenges will allow us to live our real lives alongside our guests. They will get to see us handle situations well and they will see us handle them poorly. They will hear our groaning and complaining and they will celebrate our joys along with us.
Real and regular hospitality doesn’t allow for being fake and that is a freeing concept!
Hospitality is an Act of Faith
In reality, these 18 things are probably only a few of the reasons to be hospitable. I’m sure there are many more. But the point is, God was speaking for our good when He commanded that we practice hospitality. He was asking us to step out in faith, believing that He can and will work through our feeble efforts, and He has given us a lot of reasons to trust Him in that!
What are your favorite reasons to practice hospitality? Let me know in the comments below!