Ambassadors for Christ: Given to Hospitality

Ambassadors for Christ: Given to Hospitality

    In the spring of 1979 I attended my first Way Ministry home fellowship. My family arrived at the home of a group of young people who were participating in the ministry’s outreach program. It was a life-changing event for me at the tender age of thirteen. I was apprehensive because I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought it would be easy for me to hide in the background and observe—after all, I was just a kid. Who would notice me? But I will always remember when I entered the house, all the smiles that greeted me and the warm and kind “God bless you! Welcome to our home and fellowship!” The believers were genuinely happy to see me. They showered me with loving hospitality, and I felt loved and comfortable and that I belonged there.
    As I continued to attend fellowship, that love and hospitality never wavered. The fellowship coordinator took the time to teach me the Word, showing me the concern he had for my life. I had never experienced that kind of love and care from anyone outside my immediate family. I was so encouraged by the Word I was learning doctrinally and practically and by the love I received from the household, that I kept moving ahead and growing.
    I can’t remember every person at that first fellowship I attended or what Bible verses were taught or what songs we sang, but I will never forget the love and hospitality I received and the impact that God’s wonderful household made on my heart. It is that love, care, and concern that I received as a young believer that is still exemplified in the household of God today when we as born-again believers are “given to hospitality.”
Romans 12:13:
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

    Hospitality is important because it helps us present ourselves in a way that others will want to hear the Word we are living. II Corinthians 5:20 tells us we are ambassadors for Christ. As his ambassadors we want to represent him well by being hospitable. To build an understanding of this, we will first go to the context of Romans 12:13, which contains the exhortation to the Church to be “given to hospitality.” Next, we will look at how hospitality relates to us as ambassadors for Christ. Later we will see some examples from the Word of God of believers who were given to hospitality. Let’s begin by setting the context of Romans 12:13.
Romans 12:2,4,6-8:
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what
is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
Having then gifts
[spiritual abilities] differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith [believing];
Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
    The chapter starts with telling us as born-again believers to renew our minds to God’s Word so that we “may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” It is upon this foundation that we recognize that we are all a part of the Body of Christ and that each of us has unique long suits and abilities to utilize as we serve in the household. The following verses tell us the attitude with which we are to serve.
Romans 12:9-12:
Let love be without dissimulation [without hypocrisy]. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Rejoicing in hope; patient [enduring] in tribulation [mental pressure]; continuing instant in prayer.
    In the context of all of these instructions on attitudes that men and women in the Body of Christ should have in service we find the exhortation in verse 13 to be “given to hospitality.”
Romans 12:13:
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

    It is very clear that this section of scripture is showing us how we are to serve and love one another in the household. The Book of Romans is a doctrinal epistle that is foundational to our learning as born-again believers. Being given to hospitality is a foundational aspect of the walk of a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    The phrase “given to hospitality” in Romans 12:13 is composed of two Greek words. “Given to” is diōkō, which means to follow after, or pursue. “Hospitality” is philoxenia, and its literal meaning is love to strangers, who could be described as persons not of our own family, or as guests. From this literal meaning comes the definition “hospitality.” Verse 13 is singularly significant because this is the only place the phrase “given to [pursuing] hospitality” is used in the Church Epistles. In the household of God we pursue hospitality, being generous and loving to strangers, or guests. We distribute to the necessity of the saints, ministering to the needs that arise among the faithful who do the Word. We also reach out with the quality of our lives to others who hunger and thirst for God’s Word….

This is an excerpt from the November/December 2005 issue of The Way Magazine.
Copyright© 2005 by The Way International. All rights reserved.
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