Revive Our Hearts Radio

A Mandate for Hospitality

Leslie Basham:As a newly-married pastor's wife, Kim Wagner learned something important about hospitality

Kim Wagner: Hospitality comes in many forms. I love to go to someone's home where they have gone the extra mile to put in the effort and time to treat you special. Those little details like . . . When I stay at Nancy's home, she will often a little card, fresh flowers in the room where I am staying. Those things take time and planning. They are little touches that say, "I care about you." It conveys love. It encourages you.

But hospitality doesn't have to be lavish meal, beautifully decorated home. One simple form of hospitality that my husband and I still look back on with joy and appreciation was an elderly couple in our first church that my husband pastored when we were in our early twenties. They were in their seventies. 

Almost every Friday night they would take us out to a local buffet. It wasn't necessarily a restaurant that we liked or would have chosen to go to. But it wasn't about food. It was about spending time with us.

They were allowing us to see—a couple who had been married for decades. They still loved each other. They had fun together. They were discipling us. They were showing hospitality to us. They knew we didn't have enough money to go out to eat on our own. They were buying our meal every week to take us out.

I'm just thankful for that kind of hospitality as well.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, December 9.

As we’ve seen over the last couple of days, Jesus showed hospitality to those around him, and it couldn’t have been easy.

He was busy. He didn’t have a permanent home, and he lived in a hot, desert climate. Yet, He didn’t make excuses but obeyed His Father. Let’s find out how to do the same.

Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: We’ve been talking about the ministry of hospitality and how as we extend hospitality to others, as we open our hearts and our homes to others, we become a reflection of the hospitable heart of God and of the heart of Christ who came into this world. Though He was not received—He came to receive us. He asks us to receive Him and then to receive others as He has received us.

Now when we think about hospitality, it’s easy to think of certain people who come to mind who are just really natural hosts.

You know the kind of person I’m talking about. Their home is just kind of a “bed and breakfast.” They’re always having people in, and they always make it seem so easy. Their house never gets dirty, and their linens are always clean. They always have fresh flowers sitting on the bedstand for any guest that might stop by. They have this home that just sparkles and this heart that sparkles.

We think of that kind of person, and if you’re like me and these things don’t come as naturally, you tend to think, “Well, that’s good. They have the gift of hospitality, but I don’t.”

I want us to look at two verses from the New Testament that talk to us about this mandate to practice hospitality. It shows that this really is a matter of obedience. 

First of all, we come to Romans chapter twelve.

Now to put this in context, Paul begins in verse 1 of chapter 12 by saying, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice to God.”

The key to exercising all these biblical exhortations is first of all to give yourself totally to God, to consecrate yourself and all that you are and all that you have to God. Then our hospitality and other acts of love will be an outworking of that surrendered life.

Now beginning in verse 9 (Romans chapter 12), Paul says, “Let love be without hypocrisy.” Love each other in a pure way. He says, “Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love in honor giving preference to one another” (v. 10). Be humble with each other; lift each other up.

Say to the other person, “You matter to me. You are important to me.”

Then he goes on to say specifically how we do that. “Distributing to the needs of saints and given to hospitality” (v. 13).

This is not an option. This is a direction. Love each other. Be kindly affectionate to each other. Prefer one another above yourself. Distribute to the needs of others and be given to hospitality.

Some of your translations may say “practicing hospitality.” Actually, the word here in the original language is stronger than either of those translations. It’s a word that means “to pursue, to strive for something.” It suggests vigorous effort, something that you go about with intentionality.

You determine to be hospitable. You pursue hospitality.

One Greek scholar translates it this way, “Practice hospitality with enthusiasm—be eager to show hospitality.”

So this is not something that we just stumble into or we happen to do if we just wake up and feel like it. It’s something that we are purposeful about. You think about it. You pray about it. We plan for it. We prepare for it. We look for opportunities to extend hospitality.

Do you pursue hospitality? Are you intentional about it? Or do you just do it on holidays and special occasions when it’s expected? Is hospitality, for you, a way of life? Paul says, “Pursue hospitality.”

Now in 1 Peter chapter 4 we get another little insight into how we are to be hospitable.

First Peter chapter 4, beginning in verse 7 Peter says “the end of all things is at hand, therefore [in light of the lateness of the hour and the shortness of time, therefore there’s some things you’re supposed to do] be serious, be watchful in your prayers, [be spiritually on your toes, be alert]. And above all things, [considering the lateness of the hour] have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins” (vv. 7-9).

Isn’t it interesting that he says the time is growing late. It’s a time of persecution. It’s a time when we’re anticipating the return of Christ. We’re facing hostility, growing hostility from the world, and he says in the light of this, what are you supposed to do?

You’d think he’d say, “Go out and evangelize,” or “Go out and write papers about why the gospel is true.” Those things are good, but I think he’s saying that the way you do that is by loving one another.

That’s the way you make the gospel believable in our generation. Have fervent love for one another.

Now, how do we do that? “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (v. 9).

I wish he would have just finished the sentence after “be hospitable to one another” because I think I could manage that. But then when he adds that little phrase, “without grumbling,” I really get tripped up. But I’m glad it’s there because it shows me what God’s heart is as it relates to hospitality.

What is he saying here? We’re supposed to be fervent in our love. A practical way of expressing that is to open our hearts and to open our homes to others, be hospitable to one another.

This is one of the “one another’s” of Scripture, and it’s a great study sometime to go through the Scripture and see all the things we are supposed to do or be for one another in the body of Christ.

  • We’re supposed to love one another. 
  • We’re supposed to pray for one another. 
  • We're supposed to admonish one another.
  • We're supposed to edify one another. 
  • We're supposed to care for one another. 
  • We’re told to bear one another’s burdens.

Do you know that through fulfilling this command to be hospitable to one another we can fulfill all those other “one another’s”?

It’s in the context of my home that I’ve had wonderful opportunities to love others, to serve them, to encourage them, to admonish them, to bear their burdens.

It’s in our homes, not standing in the aisle after church, that we have the greatest opportunity to really practice the “one another’s” of Scripture.

Then he says, “show hospitality to one another [be hospitable to one another] without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9). Or, as some of your translations say, “without complaint.”

I went and looked up that word in the original language. It’s the word gongusmos—the word from which we get our word gong. Do it without “gonging.”

Be hospitable. It’s one of those onomatopoetic words that sounds like what it means. Do it without murmuring, without muttering, without grumbling.

It means “to say something in a low tone.” It’s usually done privately rather than publicly, and I think of that word gongusmos (gonging)—muttering under my breath, and I have to plead guilty so many times.

I think of hospitality and the way that I have in so many cases opened my home, but with “gonging”—how much there is to do, how hard it is to get ready for this, what an effort this is and all I’ve got to do, and I can’t believe the mess they’ve made, and I can’t believe what they did down in the basement, and those kids didn’t pick up after themselves—kind of under my breath.

Now, I would never say that to my company, but I’ve said it to myself, and I’ve said it to others.

Scripture calls us not only to be pursuing hospitality, to be intentional in our efforts toward hospitality, but when we do it we are to do it without “gonging,” without murmuring, without muttering.

Instead, we are to do it gladly with a cheerful spirit. In this way, hospitality becomes a form of giving and what kind of giver does God love? A cheerful giver. The word means hilarious, one who is delighted to do this.

Yes, it involves sacrifice! Yes, it is hard work! Yes, I’ve had the experience of coming home at 6:30 when my company got there at 6:00 but I had something come up at work, and they beat me there. Yes, sometimes it does create pressure, but oh, to ask God to give us a heart that is cheerful in our hospitality.

I want us to look at some of the practical “how to’s” of hospitality. To whom should we extend hospitality?

I want to give you a list that has been helpful to me, but there are others that you would be able to add to this list as you think through the kinds of people, the categories of people to whom we can extend hospitality.

Let me encourage you as we are making this list to put down some names that come to mind, people that you could extend hospitality to.

As I was working on this, there were thoughts going through my mind, very practical thoughts in the middle of preparing for this series. I found myself picking up the phone and calling an elderly couple who live in my neighborhood and saying, “Can you come over for dinner?”

God put a couple on my heart (we haven’t had a chance to do it yet, but I’d like to do that). This is a couple that I probably wouldn’t have thought about in this way had I not been making this list of the kinds of people to whom we can show hospitality.

Third John is a book about hospitality—the third epistle of John. As we said earlier, the apostle John praises a man named Gaius because he had shown hospitality to God’s people.

And he (John) says, “You (Gaius) showed hospitality to two kinds of people, to brothers and to strangers” (v. 5 paraphrased).

This says to me that we are to show hospitality to people we know and to people we don’t know. Two categories of people, people we know—close friends, family members, extended family. It’s good to show hospitality to them.

But we shouldn’t stop there. We want to show hospitality to people who are outside our normal sphere of relating, to draw people in, to bring people in, to extend our borders to those who perhaps we don’t know.

Then in Isaiah chapter 58 we read about showing hospitality to those who are hungry and poor, those who are needy in very practical physical ways.

God is talking in Isaiah chapter 58 about the kind of heart that God wants His people to have. He says, I want you to “share your bread with the hungry and to bring to your house the poor who are cast out,” those who don’t have a place to stay (v. 7).

I think of people who have come to join our ministry at times in the past and they have come to town without knowing yet where they are going to live. I’ve had opportunity on more than one occasion to welcome some of those people (sometimes a whole family) into my home and say, “My home is your home! Make yourself at home here! You don’t have a place to live right now, and you are welcome to stay here as long as you need to. I’ll share my bread with you. I’ll share my lodging with you. Whatever I have is to be shared with you.”

Those people aren’t necessarily poverty stricken in the strictest sense of the word, but at that moment, they’re poor and they’re hungry; they’re needy. God says bring to your house those who’ve been cast out, those who don’t have a place to go.

Then we read in Job chapter 31 about taking care of travelers, those who are traveling. Job said that “no stranger had to spend the night in the street for my door was always open to the traveler” (v. 32 NIV).

I like that, and I think that’s a great model of what any one us should be able to say. “My door is always open to the traveler.”

I’ll tell you this. The door of my home is open to travelers even when I’m not there. Some people think this is nuts, but I’ve been gone from my home, as some of you know, for two-and-a-half months, and my home has been being used while I’ve been gone.

There have been people staying there. There’ve been guests. I hear about it sometimes. I got a thank you note recently from somebody I didn’t even know had stayed at my house thanking me for my gracious hospitality. I’m so thankful that the Lord has provided a home that can be used .

It’s sitting there for two-and-a-half months, and I’m just so thankful that it’s there and that it can be used to be a blessing. Now, sometimes it’s easier to open your home when you’re not there than when you are there. But when I am there, God has taught me to have a heart that says, “My door is always open.”

I’ve had people come in the middle of the night. I’ve had people come in with little or no notice—some of them pretty desperate once they get there. They don’t have a place to spend the night . Can I send them to a hotel? Sure. Is that easier? Absolutely. But I miss an opportunity to share the love of Christ, to tear down walls, to relate to people, to bring them into my life, even as a busy woman.

It’s hard lots of times. But I think it’s so important for me, and for them, for me to have this open door policy and to say, “My home is open to you.”

We are to show hospitality to those who are lonely, those who don’t have family, maybe a college student who’s not able to go home for the holidays. My mom has been so good over the years at different times of having in college students who weren’t able to go to be with their family, (maybe even their family is overseas), and she would invite them home for Thanksgiving or for a weekend they would have available.

Those who are widows, those who are orphans, maybe not strictly speaking, but maybe they don’t have believing parents, or they have a broken home and there’s no place to be where they really feel welcome.

I’ll tell you one real mission field for hospitality today and that’s kids who are “latch-key” kids, who have working moms and don’t have a place to really call home in some of those hours when their family is not available to them.

Minister to singles, those who are lonely. Minister to unwed mothers or those who are expecting a child, waiting for the birth of their child.

We take a stand against abortion, but are we as quick to open our homes to some of these gals who really don’t have a place to go except perhaps to some institutional sense, but where they need to be taken in and loved and helped through this period of their lives.

I know women who have opened their homes to foster children, and I think that’s a tough area of ministry. But I know women who’ve done it with dozens of children and found such a means to be a blessing to open their homes to that child until a permanent home can be found.

We are to extend hospitality to those who are unlike us. I love the way that Jesus reached across social barriers, economic barriers, political barriers, racial barriers, to welcome and receive those who nobody else would receive: Samaritans, lepers, tax collectors, sinful women. He welcomed them into His heart and was willing to extend hospitality and minister to them.

Opening our homes to Christian workers, to missionaries, to pastors. This was something that was such a blessing as I was growing up. We often had Christian workers coming and staying in our home.

I can still remember Dr. Hyman Appleman, who’s now with the Lord, but he was a Russian Jewish evangelist who led my dad to the Lord back in 1950. I can remember Dr. Appleman coming into our home and he and my dad having these big spiritual discussions. I would like to just sit in the corner and listen. I can remember him with his thick Russian accent praying and just the blessing of growing up and hearing prayers of men and women of God and meeting missionaries.

I’m telling you, it’s my mother and dad’s hospitality in bringing these kinds of people into our home that did a lot to create in me a heart for ministry as I would be exposed to men and women who loved serving the Lord.

I think of a couple who spent several months in my home recently living there as they were getting ready to go to the mission field and were waiting for a visa. They thought it would be a matter of just a few weeks, but it turned into several months. Jeff and Cheryl were such a blessing in my home!

I was so sad to see them go. They were encouragers. They prayed for me. We prayed for each other. We got involved in each others’ lives. Did it require extra labor? Yes! Was it a sacrifice in some ways? Yes! But what a blessing!

And then, opening our homes to unbelievers. My parents did a wonderful job of this—bringing non-believers into our home, sharing the gospel with them. We saw so many people trust Christ in the context of hearing the gospel in our home.

That’s what Matthew did, the tax collector, after he met Jesus. He said, “I’ve got lots of tax collector friends. Let me have a party, bring them into my home, and Jesus, would You come and let them get to know You?”

I heard last night about a woman who had a church background. She had been molested by her father who was active in ministry and now, as a grown woman, she doesn’t want to have anything to do with church.

I said to the woman who was telling me this story that this is the importance of hospitality. She won’t go into a church, but she’ll come to a home. You can’t resist genuine love. It’s in our homes that we can show that love.

Jesus emphasized that we’re supposed to show hospitality particularly to those who cannot reciprocate or pay us back.

He said at one particular dinner He was having at a Pharisee’s house, “When you give a dinner or supper, don’t just ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives or your rich neighbors lest they also invite you back and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor the crippled the lame the blind, and you will be blessed because they cannot repay you, for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:12-14 paraphrased).

Then finally, there is one other category of people that we need to remember, and that’s our enemies. Romans chapter12, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he’s thirsty, give him a drink” (v. 20).

Now these might not be people that you would call your enemies, but they may be people that you’re not real comfortable with, people who haven’t been kind to you. They may be members of your own family.

There may be a member of your family that you have not invited to your home, that you have not made feel welcome in your home for years. You say, “Well, I don’t feel welcome in their home. They’ve rejected me. They’ve rejected my child. They’ve rejected my husband.”

God says, “Find out what their needs are and look for ways that you can get into their lives and minister grace to them.

Nancy: As we’ve looked at the Scriptures, we’ve seen that there are lots of different kinds of people that we can extend hospitality to. We need to look around at our circle of friends and beyond our circle of friends and say, “Lord, who have You brought into my path that I can open my heart to? Who can I open my home to? To whom can I show the hospitable heart of Christ?”

There may be some people that you’ve never thought of who need to know the love of Christ. You can show it to them and be a part of their receiving His grace and His mercy as you open your heart and your home.

Leslie: Okay. Maybe after listening to Nancy Leigh DeMoss you need to get out your calendar and invite someone into your home.

As we’ve heard all this week, hospitality is an incredibly powerful way to show God’s love and build His kingdom.

The team at Revive Our Hearts is preparing for a new resource you’ll be able to use in small groups.  You can invite women into your home, show them hospitality, and then go through this new material.  Nancy’s here to tell you more.

Nancy: Our team is hard at work on a new resource called True Woman 101: Divine Design. It’s an eight-week study on biblical womanhood that my friend, Mary Kassian, and I co-authored, along with a video that goes with each chapter. This will be a perfect small group study when it comes out in the spring. A lot of church ministry leaders are excited about this curriculum.

Leslie Bennett: I'm so excited about this. I really am.

Nancy: This is Leslie Benett, a women’s ministry director in a large church in South Carolina.

Leslie Bennett: I have been waiting for a resource like True Woman 101 to take to my women. This is the missing piece that we've been looking for—a Bible study that teaches the truth of biblical womanhood. I'm looking forward to implementing this in women's ministry.

Nancy: True Woman 101 will be a great first step in meeting the needs of small groups, but we realize that it’s only the first step.

Leslie: We would love more and more resources. I find that my women don't just need shot in the arm, we need a constant, IV drip of the truth of God's Word and the truth of womanhood and what it means to embrace our beautiful design.

Nancy: Like Leslie, we’re excited about True Woman 101, but we’re also praying about what’s next—201, 301, 401. Our leadership team is convinced that small group curriculum is one of the many areas where we need to see significant growth over the next few years. We’re also looking at incredible opportunities in areas such as mobile apps, social media, and foreign language broadcasting. Each of these requires an investment in staff and resources. 

That’s why we’re asking the Lord to help us meet and exceed a matching challenge of $600,000 this month. This would allow us to keep up with our current level of ministry outreach and begin taking steps to fund some of these new, expanded outreaches.

If Revive Our Hearts has been a blessing to you, if the Lord has used it to be a means of encouragement and growth in your life, and if you'd like to see this ministry reach into the hearts and homes of more women, would you help us meet and exceed this month's matching challenge?

As you consider your year-end giving, ask the Lord if He would be pleased for you to make a donation to Revive Our Hearts. Then ask Him how much He would want you to give, as I'm also asking the Lord here at year end.

You can make your donation by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com, or give us a call us at 1-800-569-5959.  

Leslie: Here’s a novel concept. What if you were to treat your family, your husband and children, like they were honored guests in your home. Would they be shocked? 
Well, the more important question is, “Would they sense the love of God?”

Nancy will be back Monday to talk about it. Please join us again, for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New King James unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

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