“Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.”
We come to the fourth directive of 1 Peter 4:7-11.
“Be hospitable” means to be friendly to strangers or guests (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:8). A “stranger” is someone who we do not regard as a member of our extended family or a close friend. Strangeness produces mutual tension between natives and foreigners, but hospitality overcomes the pressure and makes friends of aliens.
“Hospitality” is not entertainment or an attempt to amuse people who do not need it. The idea is not that of showing hospitality to people who require help. It was customary to extend hospitality to travelers and strangers.
Times of persecution and distress obligated Christians to be hospitable to one another. Some Christians lost everything they owned and were driven to distant countries for safety. This hospitality sustained people uprooted by persecution. Many of their homes were ravaged and burned. Parents were taken away into the great slave market of the Roman Empire. Their children were often slaughtered.
Rapport love was pragmatically important to these ravaged Christians who escaped from this treatment. Hospitality enabled these desolate Christians to relocate, to establish a new business, to find work, and to assist them on their travel. In the first century, there were very few Motel 6’s or Holiday Inns. Those that did exist were places of prostitution. Hospitality became an essential means of dealing with several issues for the church in that day.
“Hospitality” became a customary means of Christian living in the first century: Acts 16:15; Phile 22; Mt 10:9-13; Ro 12:13; He 13:21; 1 Ti 3:2; Ro 12:12-14; Phil 2:14; Tit 1:8; He 13:2.
Hospitality is a manifestation of the love of the previous verse. Hebrews makes the connection between love and hospitality.
Rom. 12:13, “Distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”
Heb. 13:1-2, “Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”
Traveling ministers also required this service to spread the gospel around the Roman Empire. Thus, hospitality was crucial for the strategic transmission of the gospel. God strategically used those with the gift of hospitality. Can we use this gift strategically today?
Hospitality was also used for evangelism. By inviting non-Christians into their homes, Christians could demonstrate the reality of their life in Christ.
If we have room for people in our hearts, we will have a place for them in our home as well.
Our attitude toward hospitality should be this: if we have freely received from God, we ought to give to others freely.
Hospitality gives an excellent opportunity for us to share our life’s experiences and personal history with others. This places us in close social contact with others. For non-Christians to value Christianity, they need to see it up close in the life and behavior of a Christian of authenticity.
One of the best strategies for evangelism in our day is evangelistic home Bible studies or simple evangelistic parties. In this way, non-Christians can get up close and personal. They can see the reality of Christ in our lives. We live in a transient world where people have very few roots or friends. People move regularly. The ability to establish lasting friends is not very significant in our society.
Hospitality also enriches the Christian. It will expand our fellowship and understanding of the dynamics of Jesus Christ in the lives of other people.