Hospitality of the Saints (1 Corinthians 16)

I love reading some of the endings of Paul’s letters because he shares personal and practical details. Near the conclusion, the Apostle Paul shares his plans to visit the Corinthian church again and plans for other teachers to visit in the mean time. There were no real hotel rooms to lodge in back then, at least not in the way we think of hotel rooms today. Families or wealthy patrons often extended hospitality for those in need of a place to stay. It was particularly customary for folks from among the churches to lodge fellow believers as they came to town.

In the case of teachers or apostles, staying in someone’s home gave them another discipleship opportunity as well as accountability. Paul could easily encourage the Church to follow him as he followed Christ because he lived among them. There were some who had hosted him and could testify to the kind of person he was in private as well as in public. Certainly he impacted lives in homes where he stayed, where ever he went.

One of the products of individualism (that is so pervasive in our culture), is that we have become more and more private. (though our information through social media/technology is more available to the world than you might think.) As we’ve become more private, we’ve become less hospitable. As we work through the global pandemic one of the areas we will need to revive is Christian hospitality to one another. Not just in opening our homes to guests as they come through town, but to one another. There is so much about the Christian life that is better caught through life experience than taught in a classroom environment.

Father, thank you for the grace of one another. I pray that even in the mist of a pandemic that you will give us opportunity and show us how to offer hospitality to one another. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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James 2:1-7 (Devotional Thought)

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? (James 2:1-7 ESV)

Have you ever been the new kid at school? I still remember when my family moved from Montana to Alabama (from the North-West to the South-East) and I started eighth grade in a new school. It was different. I was different than everyone and for the first several weeks of school it seemed like I did not have any friends. Not many people were willing to take a risk on me because I came from a different background. I tried hard to fit in but everyone else knew each other and to be honest my accent was different (think Canadian). It wasn’t until I learned that some other guys liked to play basketball and I tried out for the team that I finally found a group of friends.

James reminds us that we are not to treat some people better than others because they are rich but that we are to show hospitality to everyone, even those who cannot repay us. We are all made in the image of God. Just because someone is poor, new, or sounds funny it doesn’t give you the right in God’s eyes to make fun of them, be mean to them, or even treat them differently.

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