Sharing the Gospel Through Hospitality

Today's blogger is Stacie Gibson. Stacie is a certified biblical counselor with ACBC and serves alongside her husband, who is also certified through ACBC.

The holiday season can be a busy time of year for all of us, but sometimes we forget that other people are in need, lonely and really struggle this time of year.  We have found over the past years, that having people in our home can really make a difference in someone’s life. Whether they are an unbeliever or a Saint, our homes can be a place of refuge and light in a hurting world.

The topic of hospitality has been close to my husband and me as of late because we are contemplating moving closer into our community. Currently, we have a very cozy country home with a big backyard, lots of trees all settled on 3 acres. This is the first home we purchased in December of 1999 and it holds a lot of sentimental attachment.  But, the longer we live here, the more we are bothered that we don’t have many opportunities to invite strangers and neighbors into our home. Moving into town for us would be beneficial to our local church counseling ministry and give us more opportunities to share the Gospel and be obedient to the great commission. If we are going to “Go and make disciples” we need to live near people to do that.  I am not suggesting that if you live in the country you are disobedient; this is just something that the Lord has laid on our heart this year.

Hospitality was huge in the early church. Christianity was a “home centered movement” due to the fact that they did not have a church building as we do now. Christians held church in their homes and used them as means to teach and witness to people. There are many examples written in the book of Acts of people being converted in homes. The home of Cornelius is where we hear that Cornelius, his family and friends were all transformed.  Our Lord in the New Testament demonstrated compassion on large crowds, feeding them with both physical and spiritual food.  What a better way to bring believers to Christ than inviting folks over to share a meal and share the hope of the Gospel!

What does it mean to show hospitality? The New Testament word for “hospitality” (Greek Philozenia) comes from a compound of “love” and “stranger.”  Hospitality has its origin, literally, in love for outsiders, according to Dave Mathis from Desiring God.  Hospitality means opening up your home to strangers.  Abraham is a wonderful example that comes to mind when I think if someone that loved on strangers. In Genesis 18:1-8. Abraham, who had three men standing at his tent quickly greeted them, then began to fix a meal for them. This was not a planned event, but Abraham did it with much kindness without batting an eye!

Who should we invite over? A verse that I like to keep tucked away in my mind when inviting people into our home is Luke 14:12-14 “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers, or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be paid at the resurrection of the just.”  Our communities and churches are filled with people that need to be loved on and need encouragement.  Most likely these folks don’t get invited out much because they have disabilities, previous addictions, or great financial needs.  Inviting those into your home that can’t repay you can be hard and inconvenient because you don’t know them well or they come with “baggage.” This is good for us and causes us to emulate the love of Christ by looking out for the interest of others (Phil. 2:3-4). Sometime we get too comfortable inviting the same people over because it’s easy. I know I can fall into that pattern if I am not careful.  Hospitality is the Gospel in action. Strangers and unbelievers can see your love for Jesus and it will give you a reason to tell them of the hope you have Him.  If you read through the New Testament, you will also find that hospitality is to be shown to our church family, missionaries, and biological family (Romans 12:12-13, 1 Peter 4:9, 3 John 5-8, 1 Tim 5:8)

How are we to show hospitality? Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:9 to do it without grumbling.  Having people into our homes is work and preparation, but we are to do it without all the moaning and groaning. We are to show hospitality with love and expecting nothing in return.  Paul tells us in Philippians 2:14 to do all things without grumbling or disputing.  I used to get a grumbling attitude when my husband would come to me after church service and say “Honey, I invited so and so over for lunch today.”  My first thought was how inconvenient this was to my day, and then the grumbling would start! 

May this Christmas season bring you much joy and pondering of the incarnation of our Savior! Praying that each of us can be a conduit of grace in the life of someone through the virtue of hospitality and that we will make hospitality a way of life, not just an occasional occurrence.  By showing hospitality to strangers, some have entertained angels unaware. Don’t forget this!  Hebrews 13:1-2  

Stacie Gibson is a wife to her husband Matt of almost 20 years. Together they have four children, including a daughter with special needs who is blessing to all who meet her. They serve at Grace Baptist Church in Dansville, NY and are involved with the church’s counseling ministry.  Stacie is a keeper of her home and loves to read, share God’s word with women, and spend time with her family.

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