Hospitality

“Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:1,2).
The practice of hospitality is, in my estimation, an under-appreciated virtue in the modern world. Most of us are no longer so dependent upon the good will and generosity, or even forbearance, of strangers. We maintain our own routines in our familiar places, pretty much self-sufficiently. If we travel, it is under the protection of the laws of an orderly society, enforced by police or military personnel. We drive enclosed automobiles, arrange for housing in hotels or motels, and basically look after ourselves.
It has not always been so. And, realistically, it is still not that way in much of the modern world. Ancient Bedouins traveled among armed, hostile villages and camps, never knowing when they would meet an enemy force strong enough to present danger. Lone travelers were particularly vulnerable. They were dependant upon the good will and mercy of those whom they met.
Today, when one is traveling in a culture far away from and much different than his own, it is easy to remember and identify with an Abraham or Jacob, wandering in a distant, unknown territory. As an American I am readily identifiable as a “stranger” in Asia. And in many places, I may well be perceived as a member of an unwelcome race and nationality. “What is your country?” is a frequent question. It always makes me wonder just how the answer will be received.
Perhaps for that reason, I have come to a new appreciation for the virtue of hospitality. As one who is dependent upon receiving welcome, or at least tolerance, from strangers, I now realize how important it is that I practice welcome to others. This is far more than a cordial “hello” or the offer of a cup of tea. It can well mean “life or death,” refuge or exposure to harm. When one “entertains strangers” he is taking responsibility for their well-being, at least in a limited and temporary manner. We must not take that lightly. It is the expression of brotherly love, which Jesus called the second great commandment (Matthew 22:39).
The Hebrew writer gave as a motive for extending hospitality to strangers the Biblical fact that one never knows just who the recipient may turn out to be. May I add as a second motive, one never knows when he himself may be in need of the hospitality he practices, or fails to practice.

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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