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The Mark Of Hospitality

1 Peter 4:9
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (NIVUK)

This devotional will be read in over 160 countries today.  Each nation has its distinctive culture, and some have multiple sub-cultures.  For many, but by no means all, hospitality is an important component of social life as it was in Bible times.  So why does Peter urge his readers to welcome others into their homes, to provide generously for them and to go out of their way to make them welcome?  A clue to the answer is in two words, 'offer' and 'grumbling'.
 
Where people are expected to open their homes to family, friends of family, customers and passing travellers - the motivation is social duty and obligation.  There is no choice in the matter, or opportunity to refuse.  However, the opportunity to resent the intrusion may be reinforced with every knock on the door, or phone call announcing yet another potential guest.  But Peter says that we should be proactive to offer a welcome, not only to family but to strangers also (Hebrews 13:2).  Why?  Because it is a part of our Saviour's heart to welcome the stranger and to seek out the lost (Luke 19:10).

Jesus gave illustrations: the good Samaritan was commended for paying for the wounded person’s accommodation and care (Luke 10:30-37); those who visited the sick or prisoners were commended (Matthew 25:34-36).  Church leaders should be hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2) (Titus 1:8) because godly household management is a prerequisite of godly church leadership (1 Timothy 3:5).  The attitude of these examples is also expressed in the words ‘offer’ and ‘without grumbling’ – they are the hallmarks of godly hospitality.
 
Grumbling is the slow burning fuse of resentment which is difficult to extinguish.  It comes from a self-centred mind-set and produces a sourness of heart and an inability to share the gospel.  It was the fatal characteristic of the Israelites in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:1-10).  Their grumbling made them unable to receive the Lord's wise guidance (because they thought they knew best) and disqualified them from their inheritance.  James 5:9 says that grumbling against other believers is a serious spiritual offence.  But, freely offered hospitality is a normal characteristic of the Christian who is working with God, to bless the believers and to welcome in the strangers ... all because He has already done that for us.

Prayer 
Dear Lord God. Thank You for reaching out to find me and for welcoming me into Your kingdom when I did not deserve any of Your kindness. Forgive me for withholding hospitality when I could have given it with Your love, and for grumbling about people instead of serving them. Help me to show my gratitude to You by welcoming those who You send and reaching out to those who are lost. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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