This is our final article on the subject of Christian hospitality.
Fifty years ago the world had a popular song, "If Jesus came to your house to spend a day or two." The song writer then described the burst of activity, the sudden changes that would occur in our homes in anticipation of such an honored Guest. Things that were acceptable in the home are now surprisingly unacceptable. We pick up, clean up, throw out, and revise the entire atmosphere. Why? Is not the home ours? Should we not just be ourselves, enjoy quiet time, relax, and do what we want? But wait, we are entrusted with our home as a stewardship to be used for God and the gospel. It is our privilege to further the work of God by using our time, talents, and treasures for God. This includes opening our home and showing hospitality to the Lords servants.
We are indebted to the Lords servants who labored to see us saved and then taught us many Christian truths. Gods wondrous grace to us still causes us to marvel. Today when the gospel is preached or the believers are taught, it is not always possible for these servants to retire to their own homes at the close of the day. They are entertained in our homes and adjust to our schedules and our life style.
Gaius: His loyalty and Love
God never fails to notice every act of kindness we do for His servants, even to giving a cup of cold water. When we turn to 3 John, there is a permanent record of the faithful ministry of the well-beloved Gaius. Gaius was Johns convert, he enjoyed Johns confidence, and he received Johns commendation. If in 2 John we were reminded whom not to receive into our homes, in 3 John we are exhorted whom we should receive. The conditions surrounding Gaius are less than ideal, yet he faithfully served God and His servants. The honored servants sent by John to the assembly were lovingly cared for by Gaius in a way worthy of God. They, in turn, witnessed to the church concerning the love they had received. Gaius truly loved "in deed and truth."
Woman of Shunem: Her Burden and Blessing
Consider the importance of hospitality as recorded for us by the Spirit of God in 2 Kings 4. A spiritually intelligent woman with a desire to serve God provided a meal for Elisha and soon was impressed that he was a holy man of God. She shared with her husband her concern to build a room to accommodate Elisha who often passed that way. The room was suitable and was equipped for the comfort of this dedicated servant. His needs were provided for while he enjoyed a measure of privacy. Elisha considers the kindness shown to him, and he prayed Gods blessing on the home. Have not we also been blessed entertaining the Lords servants in the home? There is a personal benefit to having the Scriptures considered and explained by the Lords servant. Their counsel is often coveted. The children profit by enjoying a friendship with men that can teach the Word of God publicly and who take a personal interest in them. Often the Lords servant can be a help to them in times of difficulty. But extending beyond this is the blessing brought to the assembly through the truth that is taught, which can guide and preserve it for God. Never overlook the practical effect of entertaining the Lords servants in our homes.
Abraham: His Response and Reward
The writer of the Hebrews seems to have Abraham in mind when he exhorts the saints, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (Heb 13:2). Unlike Abraham, we have never opened the front door to angels, but we have received Gods honored servants. Abraham, Sarah, and the household servants busied themselves for the visitors, and, like them, we have found a month long visit will affect the entire home. Much of the responsibility falls on our wives; the meals, the house work, and the childrens school work cannot be neglected. Abrahams household affords us an example as they gave their best to the visitors. When his visitors left, Abraham had something to rejoice about - a son would soon be born, and he had something to pray about - Gods judgment was about to fall on the cities of the plain. Having the Lords servants in our home, have we not gained a better understanding of the burden of the work and workers, both here at home and in far away lands? Have we not had greater cause to rejoice and to thank God for His marvelous ways in reaching souls? These visitors in the home have truly been a source of encouragement.
Allow me to bundle together a number of N. T. references to hospitality:
3 John 5 - Practice it Faithfully
Rom. 12:13 - Pursue it Diligently
Heb. 13:2 - Fulfill it Compassionately
1 Peter 4:9 - Do it Cheerfully
A special note is made concerning tribulation saints in Matthew 25, as they minister to the practical needs of fellow-believers. The Lord says, "Ye have done it unto Me." What a motive for believers to open our homes now and hear the Lords words of appreciation at the Bema. In showing hospitality to the Lords servants, it is a spiritual blessing to us and to others. We give to Christ His proper place in our lives and in our homes. May our homes be places of refreshment to the Lords servants as the home at Bethany was to our Lord as He made His way to Calvary.