Bible Study for Sept. 16: Gracious Hospitality

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1 Peter 4:7-11
Daryel O’Barr, Drawing the Net Ministries

GRACIOUS HOSPITALITY…ground your service and love in hospitality.

The word “hospital” originates from the Latin word “hospes,” meaning “guest” or “stranger.” It is the root of words such as hospice, hostel, hotel, and hospitality.

Where did the word “hospital” come from? It is inside the word “hospitality.” The word “hospital” comes from the Latin word “hospitalia,” which means “an apartment for strangers and guests.”

In early Christian times, Christians were encouraged to make pilgrimages to the many holy places of the Middle East. For several centuries, travelers from western Europe made their way into this part of the world. Many of these pilgrims traveled without money, believing they would receive assistance on their way from other accommodating Christians.

Many hospitals were established, particularly in remote and dangerous places. These services were extended as tangible gifts in the spirit of Jesus Christ.

Many of the great hospitals can be traced to the period directly following the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, when the bishops of the Church were instructed to go out into every cathedral city and start a hospital. As time went by, medical treatment gradually played a bigger role in hospitals.

Hospitality helped produce Hospitals. But, what can it help do spiritually?

The Bible exalts hospitality as a virtue (3 John) for all believers. We must emphasize to our church leaders, especially our greeters, the value of hospitality.

I recently read of a “10/10 rule.” It states that 10 minutes before and after the worship service, anyone within 10 feet of you is your responsibility to meet and greet. It serves as a simple reminder to break out of our naturally-forming cliques and make an effort to greet new people.

The Church is to be a hospital for sinners, not a showcase for saints.

People all around us are sin sick, hurting and wounded, and need the touch of Jesus. We are His hands and feet.

In 1 Peter 4:7-11, Peter reminds us to be aware of the fact that Christ will return soon. While His return will take the world by surprise, as Christians we are to be aware and “above all maintain a fervent love for each other, because love covers a multitude of sin.” The thing of greatest importance is the practice of Christian love and hospitality.

Above all else, maintain a fervent love for each other, because love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

“Above all else,” writes Peter, “maintain a fervent love for each other.” The thing that is of greatest importance is the practice of Christian love. We are to maintain such love, guarding it and not allowing it to lapse among us; where it has been neglected, we must make the necessary repairs.

What else does Peter exhort us as Christians to do? What benefits can be derived from heeding this exhortation?

Offer hospitality to one another without complaining. (1 Peter 4:9)

One expression of Christian love, brotherly love, one specifically presented in this passage by the apostle Peter, is the practice of hospitality. Hospitality has the effect of building up Christian fellowship, combating the view that we are each independent and isolated individuals in our relationship with God (note 1 John 1:3). Hospitality was not merely a matter of entertaining guests during the first century of the Christian era; it was primarily a means of ministering to one another.

For what purpose are we to use our spiritual gifts? As we use our gifts, what are we doing?

Just as each one has received a spiritual gift, so use it, ministering to each other as good stewards the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)

We are to use our spiritual gifts in ministry to one another. We are to use them to serve and build up the body of Christ, first ministering to those Christians with whom God has brought us into immediate contact and then further expanding our ministry as God sees fit to open doors of greater usefulness and opportunity.

We are to use our spiritual gifts as good stewards of the grace of God. We must recognize that our spiritual gift(s) is entrusted to us by God and the particular gift entrusted to us is a part of God’s multifaceted grace. When we use our gift(s) we are actually ministering the very grace of God to one another.

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