As a pastor, there are many times that I am thankful for those who have gone out of their way to assist me, and see that their way of serving the Lord is by blessing me and my family. They are special to me and I can say I thank the Lord for them!
God establishes the body of Christ to help one another. Each person in the body of Christ has a part to play in God’s overall plan in this world. Paul wrote, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12 esv). We see when hospitality is given in the body of Christ that there is unity. The apostle Paul knew a couple with that trait: Aquila and Priscilla.
The first mention of Aquila and Priscilla is in Acts 18. They were Christian Jews, fleeing Italy when Emperor Claudius commanded all Jews to leave Rome. They found their new home in Corinth, where God, in His providence, had Paul meet this couple who loved Jesus. These new friends of Paul would be faithful friends who would end up opening their home to him and later accompanying him on his travels to share and risk their lives for the sake of the gospel.
They were hospitable
We first see this couple in action by opening their home to Paul. As a first-century missionary, one was dependent on the body of Christ to show hospitality because it was hard to find lodging elsewhere. The risk and danger was high, the calling was a lonely one, and truly one was desperately dependent on the Lord for their well-being.
There is something special about Christian hospitality. Granted, the Bible does not give the specific details of how the friendship developed between Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla. What we see is that Paul was shown kindness by a believer named Aquila. Though there is not much detail about Aquila and Priscilla, we can learn a few things about the role of the Christian to be hospitable. Here are few reminders about hospitality.
Actually be hospitable
First, one needs to see that hospitality is not just for a small group of qualified believers, but to anyone and everyone who is a Christian. One of the marks of a Christian is to contribute to the needs of the saints (believers) and to show hospitality (Romans 12:13). This was directed to all who are in Christ.
To be hospitable means that you are pursuing love to others. That is shown in many different ways but one common way is through opening up the home to others. This is where you are interested and engaged in the well-being of the other person by spending time with them. You show them the love of Christ by inviting them over to see your life.
Another way is sharing a meal with someone. The first-century believers would share meals together as a way of fellowship. There is something special about eating together with people. Many of Jesus’ moments in ministry happened around meals. You can pay for someone as well as pray for them, and spend time with them as you eat a meal together.
Be hospitable without self-interest
Being hospitable is an aspect of genuine agape love for others. Because you and I are greatly loved by Jesus, you and I can show great love towards others. The motivation to be hospitable is not “What do I get out of this?” but really, “How do I love Christ by loving others?” This is the mindset of Christ, and how He was towards us through His life, death, and resurrection.
We are not just hospitable to the people we like. Jesus wants us to show hospitality to those who can’t repay us (Luke 14:12–14). We are not showing hospitality to those who are the “somebodies.” We need to show hospitality to those who are “nobodies.” Remember there are people that need you more than you need them, and we are not in the business of using people, but as a Christian, we are in the business of serving people.
Be hospitable not because you want to receive something for going out of your way for others. Be hospitable because you love Jesus! Be hospitable because you have received the greatest gift, salvation, which is not because you did anything but it is a free gift from God (Romans 6:23).
Be hospitable out of joy
Our motivation to go out of our way for others is not obligatory, but out of pure, unadulterated joy that we have through fellowship in Christ (1 Peter 4:9). When we view the example of Christ, and how He related with others, and how He was hospitable towards them, our motivation to be hospitable changes. When we remind ourselves of the compassion, love, and grace we have received in Christ, this changes the motivation behind our hospitality. True hospitality is compassion in action. This is being the example of Jesus.
When one is hospitable out of the love of Christ, true joy in Christ follows. It is a cycle that will never end. Our joy comes from Christ, which motivates us to show the love of Christ.
Hospitality isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it
True, showing hospitality will cost you your time, and maybe even monetarily, but it is worth it. Why? You are investing in someone else. You are engaging them with the intention of pointing them to Christ. You want their well-being to be held in Christ. You are seeing the bigger eternal picture by being hospitable and you are representing Jesus.
You may show hospitality to someone who is not a believer and they may not respond to your love and kindness like you hoped. You may never know that by being hospitable to that person the gospel seed that was sown in their life. But our motivation is out of the love that we have received from Christ and it is worth it. Let us all practice being hospitable!