Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How to receive hospitality

Image:  Fellowship at the Lynchburg Reformed Baptist Mission (1.12.14)

Note:  Below are my notes from the Sunday School lesson last Lord's Day at CRBC on the subject of how to be on the receiving end of hospitality (here also is the audio of the class and some follow-up discussion).
How to receive hospitality

Romans 16:23a: “Gaius, mine host, and the whole church saluteth thee.”

CRBC Sunday School January 12, 2014

Last time we talked about (1) the biblical basis for hospitality; (2) the spiritual usefulness of hospitality; and (3) how to make your home a warm and welcoming center of hospitality.

Though the command to be hospitable is explicitly stated in Scripture (1 Peter 4:9; Rom 12:13; Heb 13:2) what is less explicitly discussed is that if hospitality is to be graciously offered, it is also to be graciously received.

I.  Biblical basis for how to receive hospitality:

Here, for the Biblical basis, apart from the same passages cited earlier in which we saw the practice of hospitality (from the OT to Jesus to the apostles), I think we have to turn in general to the verses that speak of the general Christian qualities of humility and contentedness, along with the fruit of the spirit, as guidelines for how we are to receive hospitality.

1.  As in all circumstances, we are not to be demanding or difficult, a prima donna, but lowly, self-deprecating, and self-effacing.


Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Consider also the teaching of Jesus in Luke 14:

Luke 14:7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, 8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

2.  As in all circumstances, we are to be content.

Paul could say in Philippians 4:11 that he had learned the secret of being content in all situations.  The writer of Hebrews admonishes in Hebrews 13:5:  “be content with such things as ye have.”

3.  As in all circumstances, we are to do our best and to be grateful and thankful to God for what he provides.

Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Summary:  Be lowly, be content, and be thankful.

II.  Spiritual usefulness of receiving hospitality:

1.  It can humble us to be in a situation in which we are served and ministered unto.

Think of Jesus when he washed the feet of the disciples (John 13).  What a humbling experience that must have been for them.  But recall that Peter protested:  “Thou shalt never wash my feet” (v. 8), but Jesus answered, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (v. 8).

2.  It provides an opportunity for us to share in deeper koinonia with our fellow believers in our local church (if we are in their homes) or to understand the larger body of Christ beyond our own local church (if we are in the homes of believers from other churches).

3.  It provides a way for us to learn from the customs and practices of fellow believers.

We can observe and learn how they arrange their lives, what books they have on the shelves, what artwork hangs on the walls, how they conduct family worship, etc.

We can take some of these things perhaps and make use of them in our own home.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

4.  It can help us understand better how to pray for each other (in a local church) and for the church universal (if outside our church).

Consider Paul’s instructions in Colossians 4:

Colossians 4:7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: 8 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; 9 With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here. 10 Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)

III.  How to be a good guest (some practical suggestions):

1.  Bring a small gift as a token of thanks and goodwill.

2.  Have an open, gracious, and generous spirit.

3.  Take an interest in the persons with whom you are staying and ask them about themselves.

Ask them questions about themselves not from manipulation or in a merely perfunctory manner, but with genuine interest in them.

If someone asks you a question about yourself, give a forthright response, but then return the favor and ask them about themselves.

4.  Be willing and flexible enough to adapt to the circumstances and customs of your host, if it does not bring you into some clear violation of conscience.

5.  Do not, however, act hypocritically, as Peter did.

Galatians 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

6.  Try to eat and drink that which is offered and do not seek any special or burdensome accommodations.

7.  Be helpful and lend a hand as needed.

You might help in setting a table, in preparing a meal, in watching children, etc.

If you have children offer to help with cleanup of toys when you leave.

If you stay the night, leave the bathroom tidy and make the bed.

8.  After your visit, pray for your hosts and, if appropriate, send a note of thanks.


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