Hospitality Reset

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Albania to participate in some medical training and hiking. During my visit, I received the precious gift of Albanian hospitality. Approximately 58% of Albanians are Muslim, 17% are Christian, and 25% are other[1]. Each group works well with the other groups and beautifully offers hospitality. I felt welcomed, accepted, and cared for. Their hospitality level left me eager to offer the same to those around me in the United States. Just as the perspective from the mountains we hiked allowed me to see and appreciate the Albanian terrain, the Albanians allowed me to see hospitality in a deeper and bigger way.

The Scriptures speak on the topic of hospitality. From them I discovered four areas concerning hospitality: givers, receivers, motives, and impacts. The givers of hospitality include all Christians (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9) and particularly the leaders (Titus 1:8; 1 Timothy 3:2). The receivers range from believers (Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9), to strangers (Leviticus 19:33-34; Hebrews 13:2), to the poor, crippled, lame, and blind (Luke 14:12-14).

Thomas Aquinas observed four motives for hospitality within the Scriptures.[2] The Lord commands hospitality (Isaiah 58:7; Deuteronomy 26:12; Hebrews 13:2); hospitality should be given joyfully and abundantly (Genesis 18:3-7); the lack of hospitality results in judgment (Matthew 25:43); and hospitality brings grace (John 4:1-45), and possible encounters with angels (Hebrews 13:2).

Appropriately, Garwood P. Anderson reports:

It is important to note that biblical notions of hospitality overlap only partly with the idea of hospitality in modern Western cultures, where it is frequently viewed as the recreational sharing of fellowship, lodging, and provisions among friends or relatives. In the Bible (as in the ancient world in general), hospitality involves receiving strangers—especially travelers, who then become guests or are treated as friends—rather than merely reinforcing pre-existing friendships or bonds of affection.[3]

Although hospitality is viewed differently in the East and in the West, its influence can be observed. In the East, we find in Acts 16 that Lydia opened her home where many heard the gospel and the first church in Europe was established which eventually affected the West. An example from the West is Rosaria Butterfield (former lesbian) who described the impact of hospitality that led to her conversion.[4] Butterfield practices daily hospitality and recently stated, “Your house is a ‘hospital’ and an ‘incubator.’”[5] 

Personally, I have discovered that some of my sweetest relationships in the Lord began with a meal in my home. Having people in my home has offered extended times to know others (believers and unbelievers) in a deeper way. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth astutely stated, “Our homes are intended to be an embassy for the kingdom of Christ and for His ambassadors.”[6] Furthermore, a physical place can be offered to carry out hospitality, but a hospitable heart is the most important. A welcoming, accepting, and caring heart draws people to Christ. The evidence for the influence of hospitality happens in the East and the West, past and present.

After experiencing hospitality so beautifully and delving into the Scriptures, I asked myself some questions that you also might want to reflect on: How do I feel when hospitality is offered to me? What would it look like for me to be more hospitable? How would God rate my heart hospitality? Who is God inviting me to extend hospitality to (whether it is a place or from my heart)? Does God consider my home to be an embassy for Him?

I am grateful God gave me a reset on hospitality in Albania. I look forward to what He has in store as I listen to Him and submit! 

For your consideration: Rosaria Champagne Butterfield’s book, The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018. Revive Our Hearts podcast with Rosaria Butterfield, “The Gospel Comes with a House Key,” https://www.reviveourhearts.com/podcast/revive-our-hearts/your-house-doesnt-have-be-perfect/

Karen Burton Mains’ book, Open Heart Open Home Elgin, IL: David C. Cook Publishing Co., 1976.

Revive Our Hearts’ podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, “Open Heart, Open Home: Lessons from Lydia” Series.

[1] “World Population Review,” 2022, accessed October 28, 2022,  https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/albania-population    

[2] John M. Ashley, “Homily III: The Law of Hospitality: Second Sunday after the Epiphany.—(From the Epistle),” in Ninety-Nine Homilies of S. Thomas Aquinas upon the Epistles and Gospels for Forty-Nine Sundays of the Christian Year, trans. John M. Ashley, vol. 2 (London: Church Press Company, 1867), 7–9.

[3] Garwood P. Anderson, “Hospitality,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

[4] Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway), 2018.  

[5] Rosaria Butterfield, “Your House Doesn’t Have to be Perfect,” Revive Our Hearts, 2022 accessed October 28, 2022, https://www.reviveourhearts.com/podcast/revive-our-hearts/your-house-doesnt-have-be-perfect/.     

[6] Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, “The Opportunity in Your Home,” Revive Our Hearts, 2022, accessed October 26, 2022, https://www.reviveourhearts.com/podcast/revive-our-hearts/the-opportunity-in-your-home/.       

PJ Beets is passionate about encouraging women and children through the Scriptures and life to see the compassionate God who redeems the rejected by acceptance, the silenced by expression, the labored by grace, and the lonely by love in order to set them free to serve in His ordained place and way for them individually and corporately. She has served the Lord through Bible Study Fellowship and her home church in various capacities with women and children. Upon turning fifty, she sought the Lord on how He would have her finish well which began her journey at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies as well as a Doctor of Educational Ministry in Spiritual Formation, both from from DTS. PJ is married to Tom, has three children, and six grandchildren.

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