The word “hospitable” is defined as: receiving or treating guests or strangers warmly and generously; characterized by or betokening warmth and generosity toward guests or strangers.
I have to admit, I am not so hospitable.
Friendly, though not hospitable.
I really hate being rude to others, though I fail a lot of the times as I still am in this wretched flesh. I try to smile and treat others nicely, because that is what the Lord has commanded us to do – to love thy neighbour as yourself (and maybe I don’t know… perhaps because that is just a nice thing to do?).
However, we often forget that being friendly and hospitable are two different things. One can be extremely friendly and be loving in general, but not necessarily hospitable. As you can see from the definitions above, being hospitable is something that is related to “guest”.
Requirements of an elder
Now we are not all called to become an elder of a church. Taking an office in the local church is not something that you can simply decide with your own initiative, rather you must first be called by God to fulfil that office – then further examined by your local elders and the congregation to see whether you are really called by God and whether you truly are fit for the office of your call.
Therefore, we might read 1 Timothy chapter 3 (i.e., Qualifications for Overseers and Deacons) and not really relate much to it, since not all of us may personally feel called to become an elder or a deacon.
Regardless, we ought to aspire all of the listed qualifications that are required to become an elder or a deacon, for the list simply states the characteristics of a mature Christian.
“Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach” (1 Corinthians chapter 3, verse 2).
As you can see, being hospitable is one of the qualifications of becoming an elder (i.e., a mature Christian), not simply meaning that you must be friendly enough when guests come, but that you must be actively and lovingly welcoming and inviting guests into your home in a God glorifying manner.
You must regularly use your home as a venue to engage in godly fellowships, and for evangelistic purposes. Not only should you become an approachable person, but your house must become an “approachable house” – being open to anyone and making people feel comfortable approaching your house at all times.
How many people have you invited this year thus far?
It would be quite sad if the number can be counted with one hand. We live in a selfish individualistic society, and we want to be just friendly and hospitable enough up until the point where we are not too uncomfortable.
However, the Bible says that we ought to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him, or we are not worthy of being his disciple. Regardless whether you are introverted or extroverted, in your own unique way you are called to strive in becoming more hospitable day by day.
Start small, and grow your hospitality!
You don’t need to invite a whole family for dinner from the start. Perhaps start off by inviting few people in your bible study group to have a coffee and bible session or a movie night on the weekends.
Don’t be pressured in preparing food if you are not a good cook like myself. Make the event small so that it will be okay for you to get away with snacks and desserts you can buy from Countdown.
You can also start with just the people you feel really close with, then eventually to people you may not have had the opportunity to talk much with at church (e.g., newcomers), and perhaps maybe that neighbour or a colleague whom you have been praying about for some time for the Lord to meet could be invited eventually.
Make sure you practice and build the good habit of hospitality.
If the love of God and his grace is full within you, no longer will hospitality be a burden to you, but a delight source of pleasure in your life.
“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John chapter 5, verse 3).
“I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart” (Psalm chapter 40, verse 8).
Richard Kwon is from Auckland, a regular lay person who just loves the Lord.