The Heart of Hospitality
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9 ESV)
Hospitality is more than inviting people over and entertaining lots of people in your home. It's more than being ready, willing, and able to make a meal for someone at a moment's notice. Those things are very helpful and often a great blessing. But the heart of hospitality goes much deeper.
The Greek word for "hospitality" is philoxenos, which means "loving strangers". It's about much more than having your friends over for dinner and decorating to the hilt. those things are fine things to do, but hospitality welcomes strangers into the house. That's something many of us are not that willing to do. In fact we may complain if someone suggest that we have total strangers into our homes. Tied to the "one another" in this verse implies it would specifically mean to love fellow believers whom you do not yet know. To meet the needs of fellow believers who are total strangers to you.
The Greek word for "grumbling" is goggusmos, which means to complain and grumble. Literally it means muttering or murmuring. You know what that is. It's when you don't let it go. You keep saying the same thing over and over again. Muttering under your breath. Resenting the fact that you are being put out. That you are being put upon. Taxed. You may even think you're being taken advantage of. Why can't someone else do it? How come they keep asking us? Haven't we already done enough?
I think one of the reasons that God had Peter say to these persecuted believers that they are to be hospitable without grumbling is because we are so prone to complain. It will take a changed heart. A heart transformed by the grace of God in Christ will willingly entertain strangers in need.
John MacArthur gives the following insights:
"Persecution, poverty, orphans, widows, and traveling Christians made hospitality essential in New Testament times. They had no hotels or motels, and the inns were notoriously evil. Often they were brothels, or places where travelers were robbed or beaten. . . .
The door of the Christian home, as well as the heart of the Christian family, ought to be open to all who come in need."
You do not need a big house and lots of money to be hospitable. All you need is a heart that has been tenderized by the Gospel and sees the needs of people and wants to meet them.
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