We all have an idea of what is commanded in this verse from Paul in Romans, chapter twelve. It’s the idea of opening up ourselves in order to bless others. Some tend to think of inviting people over for dinner when the word hospitality is used. However, the concept is more far-reaching than that. Consider the comments of John Gill:
Given to hospitality; or, as it may be rendered, “pursuing”, or “following after love to strangers”; which is properly hospitality: respect is to be shown not to such only who are members of the same community with us, but also to such of the people of God, that may be of another country, or of some distant parts of our own, not before known by us; who by persecution, and distress of some sort or another, or by some providence or another, are obliged to remove from their native place. These we are to love, and show our love to, not only by directing and advising, but, if need be, by giving them food and raiment, and lodging them: this is a duty incumbent on ministers of the Gospel, and on private members, and on all who are in any capacity to perform it; and which should be done cheerfully, and without grudging; and what persons should use, inure, and give themselves to, yea, should seek after, and call to objects of it; as Abraham and Lot did, who thereby entertained angels unawares, and is what the apostle here means by pursuing and following after it (eSword).
Following after love to strangers.
What must we do? Pursue strangers! That’s easier said than done for some of us. While others find it easy introducing themselves to people, a few of us find the experience quite stressful. What is helpful for us is to remember the purpose behind the action. We reach out, we follow after, we pursue strangers in order to minister to them. It is a proactive way in which we can live out the reason for which we were created: to glorify God and bless others.
After being rebuffed in several attempts to minister to students at a local college, we found a backdoor entrance through our church. One Sunday, the church promoted an “adopt-a-college-student” program. We jumped at the chance, and have enjoyed getting to know a fun-loving, intelligent young woman and a couple of her friends. We were a bit anxious that first night. What would she be like? Would she like us? Would we like her? Could she handle our commotion and noise? Thankfully–the answers are yes to all of those questions!
Our risk reaped rewards.
Risk often reaps rewards. Occasionally, risk will lead to remorse. However, fear should not dissuade us from obeying what is explicitly commanded. Individuals in our community need us–particularly the visitors among us. College students away from their families need to be able to hang out in a home from time-to-time. Folks new to the church need to know that they are welcome among us. Transfer students in high school need new friends–and fast! As you can see, hospitality is practical and it is an activity in which we should all be engaged.
May God use us in the lives of others!