Difficult decisions

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” Hebrews 13:2 NKJV).

We are all aware of the importance of hospitality in the Christian life. There are many commands to practice love towards Christian brothers and sisters (Hebrews 13:1), neighbors (Luke 10:27), and even our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

Practicing love is not something to do only when it is easy or comes in “feel good” situations. John defines love as extending charitable help in times of need, whether or not it is easy or convenient to the giver (1 John 3:17-18).

That love of neighbor may not be convenient, and is not always directed to those to whom we are close Jesus made plain in his parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). The Samaritan interrupted his journey, exposed himself to possible danger, and went to some expense in order to help a stranger who would likely have rejected his efforts with contempt had he been able. But he was “neighbor” to the man in need and showed love for him in the most practical way possible.

As I traveled through a part of the U.S. with which I was not very familiar recently I passed a sign which read, “The person hitchhiking on this road may be an escaped prisoner.” Obviously, there was a prison nearby, and escapes were not unknown.

I was struck with the observation that the sign did not say “Do not pick up hitchhikers.” Anyone so inclined needed to be aware of possible risks, but the authorities did not choose to forbid a practice which might lend assistance to one genuinely in need. I found that interesting and encouraging.

When we offer hospitality to strangers we definitely risk making ourselves and our possessions vulnerable to those who may not be what we expect them to be. At the same time we give ourselves an opportunity to do something truly special, which will bless us forever. We may, as some in ancient times did, entertain angels.

Let us not always focus only on the risk. We should also at least be aware of the possibility of great reward.

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