"Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:1-2 HCSB
What is hospitality? Webster defines hospitality as, “generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests or hospitable treatment.” Dictionary.com goes further to define it as “the friendly treatment and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.”
The writer of Hebrews reminds us to show hospitality, therefore, we should be welcoming, friendly, and generous to our guests, visitors and to strangers. That sounds easy, but is it? I don’t have any problem being hospitable to family and friends that visit our home. I love to entertain them with good food, a comfortable, homey atmosphere, and a warm welcome. But what about the strangers that knock on my door? In today’s societal climate I’m not very welcoming at times. In fact, I’m downright skeptical and standoffish, bordering on rude. But the scripture says “Don’t neglect to show hospitality.” That’s a bit of a dilemma. How do we show hospitality to everyone who lands on our doorstep? We trust God. We treat that person standing at the door with kindness, but we also use our heads and listen carefully for the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We don’t know how the Lord may want to use us to plant seeds for the kingdom.
What about other opportunities to show hospitality? For instance, at church. When a visitor walks through the door of your church what do you do? Welcome them, introduce yourself, tell them you’re glad they’ve come to worship with you, offer to sit with them? Or do you look at them and wonder why they’ve come, wait for someone else to speak to them, or go on about your business, ignoring them?
True story...I was visiting a church in another city one time, pre-covid era. I was alone. At the time when the pastor invited everyone to greet each other, not a single person spoke to me or even acknowledged my presence except one woman with whom I made eye contact and spoke to first. I felt very lonely that morning but reminded myself that I wasn’t there to interact with those people but to interact with and worship the Lord. The sad thing is, those people didn’t know who I was, I could have been desperate for Christian encouragement or I could have been seeking a church home or I could have been there for any one of a multitude of reasons, but no one made an effort to learn why I had come. They were very hospitable with each other but not hospitable at all to me and I left with a poor impression.
Let’s not neglect to show hospitality in our churches, especially to those we don’t know, it’s important.
For the Word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 HCSB
The writer of Hebrews tells us that the Word of God is living and effective (active) and sharper than any double edged sword. As we are learning passages of scripture we are sharpening our sword, figuratively. A double-edged sword is sharp on both edges, it cuts both ways. As you study and learn scripture you will find that it both edifies and convicts. It teaches what to do and what to avoid doing. The Word of God penetrates the heart and will change our attitudes and actions if we will allow it.
Logos translated Word in this passage is the same word used in John 1:1-2 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” Here the writer is referring to Jesus as the Word. Now replace “the Word of God” with “Jesus” in Hebrews 4:12. For Jesus is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. He is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. That gives a different perspective, doesn’t it?
I'm trusting that as the Word goes into my head and my heart and your head and heart, Jesus is filling those empty dark spaces, digging out the sinful attitudes, thoughts, and ideas and replacing them with His love, grace, compassion and mercy. I’m trusting the Lord will bring passages we are learning to the surface from the depths of our hearts and minds when it is needed. In a world filled with lies and half truths, when we wonder if anyone can be trusted, we CAN trust God, the Author and Creator of all truth. His Word is absolute truth and is trustworthy.
Sharpen your sword this week!
Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.” I’ve always heard that whenever you see a therefore you should look to see what it’s there for. So let’s look at the verses leading up to verse 11.
First a little background info. The city of Thessalonica was a bustling seaport city of about 200,000 people. The largest city in Macedonia and the capital of its province. Paul had left Thessalonica abruptly after a rather brief stay and was writing to the church to encourage them. There were recent converts from paganism who were left with little support in the midst of persecution. Paul writes to encourage these new converts in their trials, to give instruction concerning godly living, to urge some not to neglect daily work, and to give assurance concerning the future of believers who die before Christ returns.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10
Paul encourages the Thessalonians not to dwell on what others are doing or the trials and difficulties they face in their society, but to focus on Jesus. He writes in v8-10; “But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.
V11 THEREFORE, encourage one another and build each other up, as you are already doing.”
We face trials and difficulties today, too. Don’t give up. Be encouraged by God’s Word and encourage one another and build each other up. Every word or act of encouragement we add to another’s life is a little brick to build her up. Let’s keep building and change our culture.
Susan Sims Meyer
Thoughts and paintings from my personal quiet time and Bible study