1. Hospitality is a means of facilitating ministry among the saints
Americans equate hospitality with entertaining, with making people feel comfortable, or with feeding people generously. Most often this way of being together is reserved for relatives, close friends, and even neighbors. But as Christians read scripture, we discover that hospitality plays a key role in how believers meet together and enter into mutual ministry (“one-anothering”).
I Pet 4:7-10, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” (note the sense of urgency and dependence) ”And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (”above all things” a critical key to functional hospitality and mutual ministry is love–love will endure the messy relationships of life together and embrace the joys of it) “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” (hospitality presents a substantial burden on our time, energy, and resources–this isn’t a bar-b-cue once a month, this is a way of life that can wear you down if it is done as a duty and not out of love) “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth:” (we don’t really need tests to discover our gifts–we only need hospitality that brings us together in the context of love, and gifts will naturally emerge) “that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (love will bring us physically together, extending grace and care that builds up the saints through the variety of gifts He gave us to mutually minister to one another).
Rom 12:13, (all) “Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.”
I Tim 5:10 (widows) “lodged strangers”
Heb 13:2 (all) “don’t forget” to entertain strangers
2. Hospitality also functions beyond the local ministry to one another
Looking at this means of enabling ministry to one another, we find that hospitality also plays a role in enabling itinerants to function and fulfill their work by being in close proximity with the lives of believers in general and leaders in particular.
I Tim 3:2 (elders) “addicted to” hospitality
Titus 1:8 (elders) “lover of” strangers
II John v. 10 “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine (of Christ), receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed…” (conversely, if they do, receive them!)
3. Our Lord’s directions to some of the very first “itinerants” sent out involved hospitality as a facilitating practice:
Luke 10:2, 7, “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. . .” (now, notice how this sending forth is enabled through hospitality) “And in the same house remain,…Go not from house to house.” (those who take in these workers find the greatest access to them) “eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire.” (note that being a laborer in the harvest and worthy of your hire entitles you to the hospitality of a shared meal and shelter, rather than a middle class salary)
Mk 6:7-12: “And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.”
God may send, but He seems to expect His people to facilitate their journey through hospitality–not funds–and in so doing their hospitality is rewarded through extended time together.
And they went out, and preached that men should repent. (How effective simple obedience can be!)
4. Our Lord’s own pattern of traveling demonstrates how hospitality enabled His itinerant ministry
Luke 10:38-40, ”Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.”
a chief Pharisee Lk 14:1” And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.”
Zacchaeus Lk 19:7 “And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.”
Emmaus Lk 24:49 “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
5. Examples of hospitality facilitating itinerant ministry in Acts and the Epistles
Acts 9:32, 38, 43 Peter at Lyda/Joppa, Simon the tanner
Acts 10:22,48 Peter to Caesarea, Cornelius the centurion
Acts 15:40,41; 16:4,5,14,15 Paul touring churches Thyatira, Lydia
Acts 21:8, 16,17 Paul traveling Caesarea to Jerusalem, Philip and Mnason
I Cor 16:14-18, “Let all your things be done with charity. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.
I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.”
Phil 2:19-30 Sending men to the Philippians: receive them…
Col 4:7-10 sending men: receive them…
Philemon 1:22 I may come: prepare a lodging…
III Jn 5-9, “Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have born witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: Because that for his names sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.
We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.
I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.”
(receiving tied to message AND messenger, not denomination and theology technicalities)
6. Church Warning: if there are true itinerants, be sure there are also imposters
II Jn 7-11, “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
7. Warning to Itinerants
Yep, fried chicken is your paycheck, if you’re blessed.