With all the bad in this world, how can we show kindness and be hospitable to strangers? That verse in the Bible holds true and works for those times. This is a different world, we have evil everywhere and there is no goodness in people. Why then should I believe this? ... Does that sound familiar? Of course, it does. These questions have been presented to us time and time again. The news media is full of such fear-filled messages. How then can we follow the Bible today?
Loving each other is the command for EVERY Christian. It is the most important command Jesus gives all of His disciples – His New Commandment.
John 13: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Not surprisingly we find this same command restated many times elsewhere in the New Testament.
Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. … 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.… 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Galatians 5:13 Serve one another in love
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 5: 2 … live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
The Apostle Peter considered the command to love so important that he repeated it more than half a dozen times in his letters!
1Pe 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
1Pe 2:17 Love the brotherhood of believers, 1Pe 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
1Pe 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
The fact that the Bible commands us in so many places to love each other tells me at least two things.
1. That loving each other is very important.
2. That Christians throughout the Early Church needed just as much encouragement and cajouling and challenging to love each other as we do!!
We, 21st Century Christians are not alone in falling short at that challenging task of loving each other. The writer to the Hebrews commands it here, but he has already spoken about loving each other in chapter 10:24 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.”
We all need spurring on to love and good works. Maybe we are too busy. Maybe we are too tired. Maybe the devil gets in and distracts us so that we end up spending our time and energy on other very worthy activities but never get round to showing true brotherly love where it is most needed.
In one sense, it is quite reassuring to know that other Christians before us have needed challenging to love each other as brothers. At another level it is quite depressing that after twenty centuries of the Christian church we still aren’t getting it right!
Jesus commands us to love one another as He has loved us. Christ is our example – and He sets the standard. And in so many place 1John spells out what this will mean for us.
1 John 3: 11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
1Jo 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 1Jo 3:15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. 1Jo 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
1Jo 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1Jo 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1Jo 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1Jo 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
To love one another as Christ has loved us – keep on loving each other as brothers!
And then in Hebrews 13 verses 2 the writer gives us practical examples of the kind of love God commands from us.
Hebrews 13:2 - “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
We can express our brotherly love in simple ways like hospitality. As we’ve said before hospitality is different from entertaining.
Hospitality is not preparing a lavish meal and an evening’s witty or profound conversation – that’s entertaining. Hospitality is a cup of coffee over the kitchen table and a chat about things that matter.
A family was entertaining the minister and his family for Sunday dinner on a hot, summers day. When all were seated, host turned to his six-year-old and asked him to say grace. “But, Daddy, I don’t know what to say,” he protested. “Just say what you’ve heard me say,” the mother said. Obediently the boy bowed his little head and said, “O Lord, why did I invite these people here on a hot day like this?!”
Entertaining says, “I want to impress you with my home, my clever decorating, my cooking.” Hospitality simply aims to serve.
Entertaining puts things before people. “As soon as I get the house finished, the living room decorated, my house-cleaning done – then I will start inviting people.
Hospitality puts people first. “No furniture – we’ll eat on the floor!” “The decorating may never get done – you come anyway.” “The house is a mess – but you are friends – come home with us.”
Entertaining declares, “This home is mine, an expression of my personality. Look, and admire.”
Hospitality whispers, “What is mine is yours.”
Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. The writer is of course referring to the story in Genesis 18 when Abraham welcomed three strangers who turned out to be messengers from God.
There is an old Jewish legend not in the Bible which says that one day Abraham was standing by his tent door when he saw an old man coming along the way, weary with his journey and with bleeding feet. With true hospitality he invited the old man to share his meal and to lodge with him for the night.
Abraham noticed that the man asked no blessing on the meal and inquired why he did not pray to the God of Heaven. The old man said, “I am a fire worshipper and acknowledge no other god.” At this, Abraham grew angry and sent him from his tent. Then God called Abraham and asked, “Where is the old man? I have cared for him for over a hundred years even though he has dishonored me. Could you not endure him one night and so prove to him God’s love?”
Where is our hospitality? Are we being and doing all we can for those in need around us? Is there a risk that we could miss out on encountering angels unawares?
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GOD BLESS YOU.