Hospitality

Genesis 18:1-5

The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

 “Am I interruptible?” Am I open to the interruptions God sends my way every day? 

In preparation to enter overseas missionary work, an older, more experienced missionary told us to get ready for a “ministry of interruptions” when we arrive in Ecuador. I’ve since learned this is true regardless of where we are serving. Interruptions are God’s way of getting our attention, drawing us into the center of his will, and opening doors of opportunity we do not see.

God wants us to be kind and hospitable to the strangers in our midst. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

In the story from Genesis 18, Abraham addressed three strangers as “Lord.” Do we consider preparing a meal for a stranger or offering cold water to someone in need as a way of serving Christ? According to Jesus, when the Son of Man sits in judgment, separating the sheep and goat, he will say, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did, or did not do, for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did, or did not do, for me.”(Adapted from Matthew 25:40) 

The reason for our lack of hospitality varies with each of us. For some, it’s because of an obsession with checking off our “to-do-list.” For others, it’s our need to finish a project or task that’s overdue. Regardless of the reason, we need to hear these words of Jesus, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (Matthew 10:42) God’s plan for our lives is to bless others, to be his feet and hands in a world where hurt, pain, suffering, and loneliness is a daily experience for many.  Our priority is “getting things done.” God’s priority is “getting people done.”

Perhaps the most powerful example of hospitality is what Jesus did at the last supper with his disciples. With everything on his mind facing the hurt of Judas’ betrayal and the horror of the crucifixion, he took time to wash each disciple’s feet. When he finished, he said, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)

Prayer: Father, thank you for sending interruptions to my well-planned day. Thank you for sending “angels in unawares” to give me opportunities to learn and grow as a follower of Jesus. Slow me down and through the ministry of interruptions, teach me how to love strangers as you love them. Show me how to give a cup of cold water with joy, put my agenda on hold, and give your agenda priority. Make me willing to take time and wash someone’s feet today.

Published by Larry Doyle

Larry began his ministry as a pastor in Kentucky, his native state, while completing his undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate degrees. (1968–1979) From 1980 to 1992, He and his wife, Becky, served in Ecuador, as missionaries with the International Mission Board. Upon returning to North Carolina, Larry pastored the Union Cross Hispanic Baptist Church in Kernersville from 1992 to 1999. In January of 2000, Larry and Becky became volunteer coordinators for Baptist on Mission in Honduras, rebuilding house and churches after the destruction of Hurricane Mitch. Upon returning from Honduras in December 2000, Dr. Doyle became the International Ministries Director for Baptist Metrolina Ministries in Charlotte, NC. In September 2003, He and Becky moved to Greensboro, where he served as Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association in Greensboro, NC until May 2016. Although retired from vocational missionary service, Larry continues to mentor and disciple men. Currently, he is pastor for Spiritual Formation and Discipleship at Proximity Church in Greensboro, NC.

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