Hospitality-It's NOT my gift!
Updated: Apr 21, 2018
I recently had lunch with a new practitioner of hospitality. She and I had become acquainted many years ago when we attended the same church. Recently, the concept of hospitality had been coming to her attention. During our lunch, we discussed the difference between the American version of hospitality (entertaining) and the biblically defined practice of hospitality (PhiloXenia – showing brotherly love towards a stranger).
Initially, we both struggled with seeing ourselves as someone who was great at hospitality. This was mainly because our limited understanding of the word was based on the secular approach of entertaining, or the traditional Christian teaching that hospitality was a ‘gift’. But the truth is, I don’t fold origami napkins, I forget to change my door wreath when seasons change, my defrosting skills are much better than my cooking skills, and I’m probably one of those people that needs a license to carry a glue gun.
Like me, you have probably even taken a spiritual gifts assessment where hospitality was listed as a spiritual gift. However, when I would take those assessments, hospitality never even made my top ten! So for many years, if someone asked me to be part of a ‘hospitality ministry’, I could easily say no because it’s not my ‘gift’! LOL
However, when I began to seriously study biblical hospitality I realized the assessment questions on those test were skewed toward the American version of hospitality, and not the biblically-defined practice.
What are the Gifts of the Spirit that the Bible speaks of?
The spiritual gifts identified in Romans 12 are prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership, and mercy. The list in 1 Corinthians 12:4–11 includes the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues. The list in 1 Corinthians 12:28 includes healings, helps, administration, and diversities of tongues.
The biblically-defined practice of hospitality (showing brotherly love towards a stranger) is not listed. By the way, neither is the American version of entertaining. So if hospitality is not a gift, what is it? Based on my study of hospitality, it is an attitude, a way of life, a precept, a commandment.
Christ gives us examples of how our faith in Him and our works of hospitality identify that we are his followers. See Romans 12:13, Exodus 23:9, and Matthew 25:31-46.
There are many, many other examples in scripture of hospitality being a precept. In fact, when you think about any of the well-known bible stories you know, it all started with hospitality. Abraham, Sarah, and the angels; Lot and the two angels; Rahab and the spies; the widow of Zarephath and Elijah, The Shunammite Woman and Elisha; Mary and Martha, Zacchaeus, The woman at the well, Phoebe, and Gaius.
It’s all there, in black and white. Someone was in the position of being a host, and another in the position of a guest. The attitude, precept, commandment, and action of hospitality was presented. The result? Blessings, so many blessings!
So, the next time someone asks you to consider being involved with hospitality, ask them if it’s about showing brotherly love toward strangers or if they want you to make 100 centerpieces? If it’s the latter, don’t forget to renew your glue gun license.
Hospitality in Action Tip #6
Since Hospitality is a directive of our Christian faith, not a spiritual gift, intentionally welcome new guests visiting your church.