Faithlife Sermons

Come to the Table #4

Come to the Table  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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(NIV) — 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
(NIV) — 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Meaning of ‘hospitality’, specifically in regard to welcoming ministries.
There are two general terms used in the NT that are the translation of several different Greek works that carry the same sense.
The specific word ‘hospitality’ is the Gk philoxenia. It’s a compound word from love and stranger — to love the stranger. Both the Old and New Testaments taught to be considerate and welcoming of strangers (non-Jews or outsiders). There were boundaries attached to that which we will discuss later.
We are urged to ‘practice’ lit. pursue hospitality — to look for opportunities to host people in our homes.
The other group of words that carry the sense of hospitality is most often translated as ‘receive’ or ‘welcome’.
(NIV) — 38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.
(NIV) — 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.”
(NIV) — 10 So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
Openness of home was somewhat equivalent to openness of heart. Hospitality in Biblical times was of high importance.
We are urged to ‘practice’ lit. pursue hospitality — to look for opportunities to host people in our homes.
Showing hospitality was especially important for travelling ministries. People were urged to welcome guest ministries into their homes for food and lodging.

Biblical Hospitality vs. Entertaining

Did you know that there is a difference between hospitality and entertaining? I lived for years thinking that the two were the same exact thing. Fast forward several years, severgal books and Bible studies on hospitality, and I came to the conclusion that there is, in fact, a big difference between the two. I looked the two words up in Entertain: To hold the attention of with something amusing or diverting. Hospitality: Cordial and generous reception of or disposition toward guests. Looking at these two definitions, I feel stressed and overwhelmed at the thought of entertaining. I am naturally introverted (although time and age has brought me out of my shell, and one probably wouldn't even know that I am a natural introvert.) The thought of having to hold the attention of something for an extended period of time is totally overwhelming to me. When I think about having to do that, I feel pressured and anxious. What if I can't think of something to say? What if I'm not amusing enough? What if my guests are bored with me? Etc., etc. However, when I read the definition of hospitality, I do know that I am indeed able to show a cordial reception of guests. I am able to show an interest in my guests and their lives. I feel the pressure slide off. Here's the big difference between the two: entertaining is very me-centered and hospitality is guest-centered. Here is a portrait of entertaining: What can I do that will totally knock the socks off of my guests? How beautiful can I make the table settings? What delicious gourmet dishes can I serve that will totally "wow" my guests? What outfit am I going to wear that will make me look gorgeous and put-together? When I entertain, I obsess over what my guests will think of me. I get cranky because a pillow is out of place or there are water droplets on the bathroom vanity. If something goes wrong, it sends me over the top. Entertaining is about impressing. Entertaining gives the glory to the hostess. The hostess' intentions are to totally impress her guests with her amazing culinary abilities. She wants to put forth the notion that she is pretty close to perfect and so is her home. I've been there way too many times. Anyone else? However, as you may be able to see by now, this is fake and superficial. How can you be real with your guests if you can't even let your guard down for them to see your imperfections or weaknesses? If you're so worried about what your guests are thinking about you and your abilities, how can you even begin to truly focus on them and their comfort? You might think that you are, but as long as your attention is focused on yourself, there is little mental energy left to really devote to your guests. Now, Biblical hospitality: I'm in the midst of a pretty typical day. The kids' toys are scattered throughout the house. The kitchen counter is cluttered and there are way too many dirty dishes littering the sink and countertop. Maybe I didn't even have a shower that morning. Then the doorbell rings. It's a neighbor or a friend. Oh no. If I invite them in, they'll know that I don't always have it together like I want everyone to think. What to do? Is the bathroom clean? Oh, I hope that one of the boys didn't miss the toilet! Well, if I practice Biblical hospitality, I invite them in, unshowered body, cluttered house, and all. And I serve them lunch even if it means turkey sandwiches on paper plates because I haven't had the chance to run the dishwasher yet. And I don't apologize for the toys or the dirty dishes (I know that's a hard one) because that puts my guests on the spot and probably makes them feel just a bit uncomfortable. But instead, I invite them into my real, imperfect life and treat them like a friend. That looks a lot different, doesn't it? Hospitality is not at all about "me." It's completely about others. It's about opening myself up and being real with others. It's about taking the time to love others with my time and resources (even if they're limited) even if I haven't had hours or days to clean and prep. Biblical hospitality is not about cooking out-of-this-world dishes, setting a beautiful tablescape, or having a perfectly in-place home. You don't even have to be a good cook to practice Biblical hospitality! Biblical hospitality is about focusing totally on our guests and their needs. It's about being okay with leaving the dishes go until later so that we can linger longer at the dinner table and talk with our guests. When I finally realized what God expected of me as far as having other people into my home, it was really rather freeing. I didn't have to make everything perfect. I just needed to make things nice and comfortable. And I just needed to stop being so uptight, let go of my obsession of what others thought of me, and show Christ's love to my guests by opening my imperfect home and family up to them. If we live in the "entertaining" state of mind, we'll eventually become burnt-out. Entertaining puts a lot of pressure and high expectations on us since it's all about how we can impress our guests. Living in the "hospitality" state of mind permits us to take it easy. Sure it's fun to set a nice table and it's certainly okay to pay attention to the details and make things special. But these things are not the most important things, and they should be done to make our guests feel special and cared for. I've been the "have guests to impress" gal. And I'm glad I don't have to go there anymore. And, trust me, you're not going to offend your guests with your relaxed approach (and if you do, then they're in the wrong, not you), but, rather, I think you'll make them comfortable knowing that you're not perfect either. Think of it this way: If you're always going over the top when you have guests over and everything is always as close to perfect as possible, don't you think your guests are going to feel intimidated with the thought of having you to their home, feeling that it would be pretty hard to live up to your performance? I've been there. Now, for those of us who enjoy adding special touches and details to our meals and such, that's okay too. I'm one of those gals. But our intention in doing this should be in making our guests feel important and special, not making ourselves look good. I have a wonderful friend who is a natural at adding details to her meals that always make me feel special and at-home at her home. That's great. That's okay. And I actually plan on sharing some of the things I do to add a special touch. However, it's important to remember that these are not necessary to practice hospitality and should never come before simply welcoming our guests and showing love to them. Blessings to you all! You're truly a blessing to me, and I pray that you always feel welcome here!
Hospitality is ‘other-centred’.
(NIV) — 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Expanded thought: opening your home and heart to others creates opportunities for divine encounters.
Hospitality is a building block for community. It provides to opportunity to explore and build new relationships. Hospitality is the expression of community that is not conditional on pre-existing relationships.
Some people are better at hospitality than others. Personalities and gifts will influence how inclined you are toward hospitality. However, nothing in Scripture exempts us from showing hospitality at one point or another.
Concept of when not to receive/show hospitality — false teachers, lazy, divisive people, toxic sinners, etc.
Reciprocation: The expectation of reciprocation is not characteristic of real hospitality. Often times people express their love back in other ways. Showing up in the first place is its own form of honour.

Boundaries of Hospitality

The Bible also shows some limits to hospitality, since some forms of it can be unhealthy or even dangerous.
(NIV) — 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
(NIV) — 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.
God asks us to set boundaries on people connections because the corporate body is more important than the individual. Why? Because when the body is destroyed, the people are destroyed.
This does not mean you don’t connect with people! It’s not about people who struggle and need help and discipleship. It’s about people who brazenly continue in sin and are not open to correction and growth.
(NIV) — 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. 11 Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.
Once again, not about people who believe differently but those who want to bring ungodly influence into your household.
You need to know your own limits and boundaries.
What brings health to community and relationships are the conversations that make room for Christ to be honoured and people to be built up. Sometimes you will give. Sometimes you will receive. Some will give more than others — because God has provided for you to do so. Others will receive more than others — because you are at a different place at that time. But it all works out for the good of the Kingdom — and that benefits us.
Don’t assume that it’s only strangers that will bring divine encounters. If we make room for each other and God in our hearts and our homes, we can see God do wonderful things in our lives.
Concept of when not to receive/show hospitality — false teachers, lazy, divisive people, toxic sinners, etc.
Entertaining strangers, building relationships.
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