Hospitality as a Ministry, Part 1

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
— Romans 12:13

The past few weeks I have been taking a class on the ministry of hospitality at the Seminary. It is a class for wives of seminary students, and it has been extremely helpful. One of my assignments in class was to put together a devotion on hospitality, so I will be posting what I learned through this devotion in the next few days. God has really opened my eyes to what his vision of hospitality is in this class. Hope this helps!

Often when we talk about hospitality we get a June Cleaver image in our minds: perfect dress, baked cookies always ready for guests, apron always on and ready for cooking, and a spotless home. None of these images are wrong in and of themselves, but they don’t give the full biblical picture of hospitality. These ideas of hospitality are merely external, and to view hospitality in this way can quickly make a woman (or man) who doesn’t measure up feel inadequate and incapable of obeying God’s command to be hospitable to one another. Today and tomorrow, we will look at four things that I have learned about hospitality in recent weeks.

  1. Hospitality is a Gospel issue. In order to understand this command in Romans to “seek to show hospitality”, we need to first understand what Paul is saying in the entire book of Romans. It is very easy for us to take a verse like this and simply obey it for obedience sake, but Paul is giving us some great Gospel truths in the entire book that will enable us, and set us up, to hear what God would have for us by the time we get to Romans 12:13. Romans 1-11 is full of rich theological truths about what Christ has accomplished on our behalf. Romans 12-16 is about the practical living out of these truths. Paul is setting us up theologically first so we can rightly engage in the practical tasks of the Christian life. They don’t make sense without it. This is why he says in vs. 2 that he is urging them “by the mercies of God.” With God’s mercy in plain view in the previous chapters, he is calling the believers in Rome to a life changed by Christ. He is saying to them “in light of all that you have learned about God’s abundant grace and mercy towards you, here is how you live.” We can see these truths as applying to us as well, if we are in Christ. To practice hospitality is to live out of a life changed by the Gospel. Christ’s amazing work is what people should see in us when we love them and minister to them.
  2. Hospitality is an exercise in humility. To minister to people often means to die to our own desires. If you read all of chapter 12 you will see countless commands that pertain to selfless living. In verse 3, Paul tells us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. In verse 10, Paul tells us to outdo each other in honor. And we know that often times, the ministry of hospitality requires us to step outside of what is comfortable for the good of someone else. There is no room for pride when we are ministering to people with hospitality. Pride will hinder them from seeing Jesus, which is what we ultimately want. Giving people our time, love, and resources will destroy us and drain us if we are consumed with our own desires and wants.

To be continued...