November 29, 2017

True Hospitality

Matthew 25:31-40

Love each other deeply. . . . Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

—  1 Peter 4:8-9

When we visit our son’s family in California, our granddaughter would gladly give up her bedroom without grumbling. We’re reluctant to impose, though, so instead we accept the hospitality of a friend’s apartment.

In Peter’s day, hospitality involved more than making room. Not only did a host focus on a guest’s needs for food and shelter, but hospitality called for a warm welcome and kindness. It even had a certain ritual. On one occasion, Jesus reprimanded a begrudging host, pointing out what he had failed to do—no washing of feet, no welcoming kiss, and no anointing with oil—in other words, no hospitality (Luke 7:44-47). Ouch!

Hospitality calls for accepting someone as a friend—no longer a stranger. It flows from loving God. Today’s Scripture provides some strong words about ministering to people who were hungry, poor, strangers, or in prison. Hebrews 13:2 adds, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” God has invited us in; can we do any less for “the least of these brothers and sisters”?

Offering hospitality means being ready for the unexpected so that we can welcome people as Jesus did. We don’t need a hotel to do so.

Lord Jesus, we look forward to your coming again to live with us in your kingdom forever. In the meantime, help us to offer hospitality to others in your name. Amen.

About the author — George Vink

Pastor George Vink has served as a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church for more than 30 years in British Columbia, Montana, Michigan, and California. He and his wife, Shirley, have four married sons and nine grandchildren.

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