What comes to mind when you think of hospitality? In our cultural setting, we often tend to think of hospitality as entertaining people at a birthday party or perhaps as part of a restaurant or hotel industry seeking to attract customers. We can fill numerous Pinterest boards with ideas on tasty appetizers or creative party favors, but hospitality isn’t simply about creating a perfect event.

As one blogger put it:

“Too often we think of hospitality in external terms—cooking, cleaning, and entertaining. I don’t mean to discredit the value of such forms of hospitality, but the greatest form of hospitality is not to share your food or your home with others but to share yourself. True hospitality is costly, it requires that we invite people to see the real us. We must, like the Apostle Paul in Thessalonica, delight to share ‘not only the gospel of God but our lives as well’ (1 Thess. 2:8).”

The word most often used in the Bible for hospitality literally means “the love of strangers.”

This doesn’t mean that we only show hospitality to strangers, but it does mean that strangers are to be included in our hospitality. It’s not just about showing love to our friends!

But to take it a step further, hospitality as seen in the New Testament often has a strategic purpose—the advancement of the gospel.

Think of how often Jesus ministered to sinners through meals. Recall those who opened their homes to our Lord during His earthly ministry, even when it wasn’t easy. Can you imagine having pieces of your roof dismantled while potential strangers lowered someone into your house? (cf. story of the paralytic man; Luke 5:18­–25).

Sometimes, hospitality also involves being a “hospitable guest.” Paul and Silas sang songs of praise in an unexpected environment—a jail cell in Philippi. When an earthquake broke open their shackles, they stayed rather than flee. Their amazed jailer fell to his knees asking, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).

He took home his former prisoners, fed them, and washed their wounds. In return, they offered something even better—the saving message of the gospel. And, everyone in the jailer’s household believed!

Hospitality in its truest since is not just about what a person does; it’s about who a person is—someone who welcomes the stranger.

It’s the kind of person who is always prepared to welcome or serve others, even if your house isn’t Pinterest-worthy. Maybe it’s buying a meal for the homeless man on the street. Perhaps it looks like volunteering with a refugee organization in your community. Maybe it’s welcoming a new family on your block or inviting a missionary on leave to use your guest room as long as they need.

How is God calling you to show love for the stranger?

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