Monday, May 25

What is Hospitality?

What do you think the Bible means by hospitality?

In order to understand it, we need to start with bread. Bread? Yup!

In Biblical times, bread was thinner and crisper than our bread today, which brought about the term “breaking bread.” It signified sharing fellowship at a meal, or as it was called, the bread of fellowship.

It was one’s sacred duty of hospitality (called the sacred law of hospitality) to offer bread, give lodging, and protect any traveler that came to one’s door, treating him as a guest.

If the homeowner and the guest broke bread together, this bound them together by the strongest ties of friendship, as in covenant, and was confirmed occasionally by the giving of gifts. This was a pledge of reconciliation and peace and would descend to their heirs, for it was in perpetuity.

If the guest declined the offer, it meant, in essence, that the host’s bread was unfit for use, which violated the sacred law of hospitality and contained sever penalties.

In Chechnya, every family has a special guest room that is always kept ready for a visitor. No one is allowed to use this room. Food is always available to serve a guest if he or she should appear.

In the Middle East, if someone knocks on your door, you are obligated to let them in, to feed them, give them a place to sleep, and they can stay as long as they like and you cannot kick them out!

When Jesus sent out the disciples, He commanded them to take no bread or money with them, so that they would depend solely on the hospitality and acts of kindness of others and make covenant friends.

Therefore, if the disciples had rejected the hospitality offered them by others, it would have been considered rude or an offense, hindering their efforts to spread the gospel.

Also, Jesus gave them instructions on how to respond to the cities that did not receive them in hospitality, “When you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” (Matt. 10:14-15 NKJV)

If they refused the disciples who were in partnership with Jesus, consequently, they refused Jesus. This was serious stuff!

Concerning this same sense of hospitality, Jesus spoke to the disciples of that future day of separating the sheep from the goats, “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matt. 25:34-40 NKJV)

(‘Stranger’ also means a guest-friend, bound by ties of hospitality. ‘Took’ or ‘take in’ means among other things, to entertain hospitably, to bring one into your house for hospitality.)

Jesus continued, “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” (Matt. 25: 42-43 NIV) You received Me not; you did not receive me in hospitality.

This should be a wake-up call for us. Hospitality is more than having a potluck supper for our Bible study group.

Paul urges us, “When God’s children are in need, be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night.” (Rom. 12:13 TLB)

May you receive others to break bread in the spirit of hospitality.

~~Blessings, Lynn~~
9 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Wonderful post. I know I don't always treat others as hospitably as I could and should. Not that I'm going to start inviting every door to door salesman in for dinner, but I think I could be nicer to them and show them Christ's love. :o)

  2. Man, do I have a lot to answer for here. Lord, I pray in Jesus' name that You would work on my heart of hospitality. Thank You, In Jesus' name amen.

  3. Sita Says:

    In our culture here in TO, this can be a 'stretching' experience, taking a step out of the comfort zone. Why? TO is deemed the most multicultural city in the world, and as such, a variety of cultures flock to the church and they are the 'unknown' to you and it is uncomfortable, but for the few whom God has 'freed' to opne their homes and hearts, what a difference has been made.
    Thanks, Lynn...have a great day.

  4. Hi Lynn,

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  5. Sheila Deeth Says:

    Lovely thought-provoking article. Thanks.

    (Of course, in my case, I wish they had gluten free bread.)

  6. LisaG Says:

    Hello Lynn,

    Even though I have a blog on blogger, I came about this blog from Lindenville Cafe. My blog there is Simply Spiritual.

    I really enjoyed reading this post on hospitality. It is interesting that you said Jesus did not allow his disciples to take food or money with them because he wanted them to experience the hospitality of others. It is an interesting thought. I've heard other reasons for them not taking food or money, but this one does make a lot of sense.

    Our generosity to others always comes back to us. I think once people understand this it would help them to be more hospitable and generous to others.

  7. Good post, Lynn. All of us need to be hospitable.

    Pat Marcantel
    (my other alter-ego is Stargazer)

  8. Walk Says:

    "It's more blessed to give than to receive" comes to mind. For when we give to other's, we're the one's that receive back much more. What price can you put on a smile or someone having a full belly?

  9. Thank you for another lovely, meaningful post, Lynn! I've got an award for you, so please stop by when you can.