Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13
Hospitality is not something that many in the West are proficient at. Sure, there’s the occasional holiday meal with family and friends, and family is welcome upon invitation but by and large, we don’t practice it. It’s not that we are inhospitable. It’s just that we like our privacy.
Ancient Israel and surrounding areas were famous for their hospitality. Today many developing nations practice wonderful hospitality. Muslim culture are very hospitable. You can point to Africa, South America, and the Far East, and all three regions with few exceptions are very inviting.
Ironically, Western nations, in general, are not known for welcoming neighbors into their homes. Of course there are exceptions. Oddly enough, Western nations tend to be very generous with aid, relief, and mission work. There is a disparity between the personal hospitality and the corporate “generosity.”
So, why is it so important to be hospitable? The answer probably is in the last paragraph. Inviting someone into your home is much more personable and more difficult than mailing a check. Your guests get a chance to see the real you, warts and all. Likewise, you get to see them as they are. It really is a win-win if we get over the fact that our place may not be perfect or “what will they think?” or any number of unspoken objections.
Those two words: practice hospitality appears at the end of this passage that started by saying, “love must be sincere.” They are related if we’re willing to see it. Where to begin? Small but intentional steps.