Hospitality – A Chamber in the Heart

This article highlights the value and importance of showing hospitality to those who move amongst the assemblies.

“Let us make a little chamber,” 2 Kings 4:10.

The Apostle Paul, desiring to see the character of the Christians develop, gives many practical exhortations. To the assembly in Rome he encourages believers to be “given to hospitality” (12:13). In Hebrews 13:2 the writer exhorts, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers.” Each passage follows encouragement to brotherly love. Hospitality is not simply the thought of social entertainment, but expresses brotherly love and support for the work of God by providing godly care and assistance. Hospitality has a cost, but it reaps unmeasured benefits. Hospitality is mentioned twice concerning the expectations of a shepherd or guide: 1 Timothy 3:2, “given to hospitality,” and Titus 1: 8, “a lover of hospitality.” In 1 Peter 4:9, Peter encourages all believers to “use hospitality one to another without grudging.” This is a wholesome and timely reminder to younger believers – and to all of us. What a great privilege we have to show hospitality to the Lord’s servants that move among the assemblies and to His people as the occasion arises!

Hospitality has characterized God’s people in past days. Abraham (Genesis 18:1-8) and the Shunemite woman (2 Kings 4:8-11) are examples of this.The record of the great woman of Shunem provides some practical applications for us today. Living in this city of Issachar on the slope of Gilboa, she faced days of national failure and compromise. Ahab was king over Israel and Jehoshaphat was king of Judah. In spite of these conditions, God had a servant by the name of Elisha moving about in His service. Although her name doesn’t appear in God’s Word, she bears the distinction of being the only “great woman” of the Bible, and the deed which distinguished her was hospitality. On a given day, Elisha passed by Shunem and this great woman discerned a need. She constrained the prophet to eat bread with her household. She gave him an open invitation to return any time he was passing by. As often as Elisha came by he took the opportunity to be sustained by the hospitality of this great woman. Her hospitable heart recognized a further need, a place for the prophet and his servant to abide. She spoke with her husband, thus displaying her recognition of headship in the house. Her suggestion was, “Let us make a little chamber” (2 Kings 4:10). They agreed and with combined effort made a room available. The room was furnished with a bed, a table, a stool, and a candlestick, which reminds us of rest, provision, communion, and testimony. It became a haven for the prophet and his servant. Elisha recognized the kindness of her heart when he said (v 13), “Thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee?” She answered that she was content to “dwell among my people.” Her hospitality was neither for reward nor self-advancement; nevertheless, the Lord blessed her with a son as evidence of the divine approval given to a hospitable heart.

What made an Abraham in Genesis 17 invite the strangers to rest while he fetched water to wash their feet? Why along with his wife did he provide a meal and invite his guests to remain as long as needed? This is in contrast to Lot in Genesis 19. He invited the visitors to enter, wash their own feet, and leave in the morning. No mention is made of his wife’s being involved with the invitation or making any provision for a meal. What prompted the great woman with her husband to go as far as they did? What moved a Gaius (Romans 16:23) to be the host of Paul? Why did Gaius faithfully help the brethren and strangers on their journey (3 John 3-8)? They expressed their love for the Lord by their interest and care for the Lord’s servants and His people.

To you that are young and contemplating marriage, or just married, what exercise do you have toward providing hospitality in your home for those that serve the Lord or for visiting or needy Christians? Devotion to the Lord will instill purpose in the heart and this will motivate you to put words into action. It might mean simply an invitation for a meal. This will give you the opportunity to learn a little of the visitor and to enjoy a time of spiritual enrichment. You may possibly discuss portions of the Scripture as you read together after the meal. These experiences may encourage you to open your home to host a servant of the Lord who is visiting your assembly for meetings. These expressions of devotion to the Lord will also promote your own spiritual development. Your interest and exercise for the work of God will broaden through first hand acquaintance. Your children will receive great benefit in their development.Possibly you are an older husband or wife who has never sought to do this, not even providing a meal. You have missed a lot by overlooking the privilege and responsibility of Christian hospitality. You have left this to the brother and sister that “keep the preachers.” Why leave this labor of love to a few willing ones? It is not too late for you to serve the Lord through loving hospitality. This will be contrary to the spirit of the world: “It is not convenient,” “I am tired after a day’s work,” “Others can do it,” “It will disrupt plans that I have,” or “We have children and they can be active.”

To those who are responsible for leading God’s flock this is a nudge to be “given to hospitality.” The degree to which you are given to hospitality affects the character of the assembly and of your home. Hospitality in a God-fearing home provides an opportunity to guide and promote the development of younger believers and those who need instruction.

How important it is for both the husband and wife to share an interest in this work! Aquilla and Priscilla are noted for the benefit they brought to Apollos and, through him, countless other believers (Acts 18:24-28).Whether young or old, we can honor the Lord by heeding the exhortation, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” Obeying this injunction from God’s Word will illustrate that “in keeping of them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:11).