Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. – Hebrews 13:2
You’ve got guests, so you roll out the welcome mat and provide food, drink, and entertainment. You stop what you are doing and get involved in the conversation with those who have chosen to come and visit you. Your guests leave with the knowledge that they can come back – or do they?
For most us, it is very easy to make our friends feel at home when they come to visit us. We want to show them how much we appreciate the time and effort they took to come to our homes. Being hospitable matters as we want them to leave with a good impression and because we want them to come back again. So, we consciously make sure that they are taken care and that they know their time was not wasted.
However, showing hospitality to our family or strangers can be harder. In the case of family, our familiarity with them can lead us to the attitude of “why bother”. They always come to visit so I don’t need to take that extra mile to ensure that they will come back again. They can help themselves to whatever they need and we can talk while I watch TV, play computer games, or check the internet. There is no need to be overly generous towards them either.
Having the “why bother” attitude with family members can harm our relationships with them. We forget that our sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, etc. are people too and they want to feel welcomed when they come to visit you. They want to know that they matter to you and that you value them enough to switch off the TV or computer and show them hospitality, even if it is just conversation over a cup of tea and cookies.
Strangers also appreciate hospitality. By taking time out to make them feel welcome and not ignoring them gives them the confidence to approach you in the future as they do not feel rejected. The friendship and kindness we offer to people when we first meet them is all part of being hospitable.
Being inhospitable is also against Biblical principles. There are many verses in the Bible that tells us that by showing hospitality we are showing how much we love others. Ignoring our guests by letting them leave our homes hungry for both food and/or conversation can be very detrimental to all involved. Your guests may be very reluctant to spend time with you again and you will be left wanting.
The main reason for hospitality, in God’s eyes, is to show others that they are loved. God wants us to love everybody equally. It’s not one thing for my friends, another thing for my family and something else for strangers. It’s the same for everybody and we should show that we care for people by being generous and friendly in every circumstance and not just the select few.
Family and friends, when they come to visit, are our guests and the way we receive them matters to them and to God. Our treatment of strangers is also important to God as indicated in Hebrews 13:2. We have to make sure that those we come into contact with feel the warmth, kindness, generosity, and friendship we have for them. Most of all, God wants us to make them feel that they are loved, in the same way He loves us.
Hospitality is all about letting others know that they are important and that they are indeed worth the time and effort.
*This article was originally posted at Inspirational Christian Blogs in November 2016.