Passage I Timothy 3:2-3
Other passages Luke 14:13-14, Matthew 25:41-43, Hebrews 12:2
Background Qualifications for leadership (1 Tim 3) are markers of Christian maturity
Synopsis of the passage Christian maturity: Hospitable
Message Outline Hospitality as
Trial: Hospitality in the ancient world and the mysterious powerful
stranger to which we must respond appropriately
Command: Jesus was in relationship with all kinds of people via
hospitality, and makes it clear he requires his disciples to show
hospitality to those who need it
Discipline: Hospitality is hard as it takes effort to move beyond the
familiar, and often we take deep offense at some differences. We have
to train ourselves to be hospitable anyway.
Jesus is the mysterious stranger who asks us to show him hospitality,
and then our lives will change.
Can we learn something from Jesus about the practice of giving and
receiving hospitality, so our relationships will become more
Application Take steps to grow in hospitality
1.Introduction (1 min)
a. We have been studying the characteristics of a mature Christian from 1 Tim 3. Today’s
topic is about the next quality in the list: “hospitable”
b. So here’s some questions we are going to touch on today:
i. How important is hospitality to discipleship?
ii. Whom should be the target of our hospitality
iii. Why is hospitality so difficult?
c. And I have three points
i. Trial by hospitality
ii. Command to hospitability
iii. Discipline of hospitality
2.Trial by hospitality (4 min)
a. Hospitality is ‘kindness’ to strangers. It is an openness to warmly interact with others,
specifically by opening one’s home and sharing resources to meet needs.
b. Generally, in the ancient world, without police or hotels, travelers were at risk.
i. So hospitality towards strangers was a practical necessity.
ii. The Greeks and Romans made hospitality a religious obligation by saying that
their chief god, Zeus, was the protector of travelers.
c. In many cultures, there are stories of certain travelers that might even be gods
i. They come unannounced and in disguise, and are powerful.
ii. E.g. Clint Eastwood (brings justice), Mito Koumon (brings justice), Sleeping
Beauty (don’t be rude to witches), Beauty and the Beast (learn love, you beast)
iii. These mysterious figures bring change, good or bad, depending on whether
they have been rejected or welcomed appropriately.
d. In the bible too, people are sometimes visited by mysterious figures.
i. Abraham was visited by three angels, whom he welcomed, and he received
ii. Right after that, his nephew Lot, living in Sodom, also welcomed a couple of
strangers. But the people of the city were wicked, and wanted to treat the
strangers brutally. God judged the city and destroyed it. But Lot’s welcome and
defense of the visitors, who were angels in disguise, saved him and his family.
e. So the way we react to strangers
i. exposes something about us
ii. In our interaction, there is both the possibility of curse and of blessing
iii. There is the possibility of us growing because of the relationship
f. We could say that the opportunity to show hospitality is a divine trial or test.
3.The command to hospitality
a. The bible commands us to be hospitable, but not like the world does it.
b. Luke 14:7-14 The tendency of the world is to welcome those who can repay our
i. The Romans made a law about it. Two people would exchange presents, and
that created the obligation to show hospitality when the other was traveling near
ii. Heads of families would create social bonds by spending large amounts of
money to host other families for months at a time, and give expensive presents
when they left.
c. Disciples of Jesus are commanded to a different kind of hospitality
i. We see Jesus showing hospitality when he fed large crowds, and the blessings
came back as leftovers more than the food they started with. In other words, the
guests didn’t repay – in fact they were eventually ungrateful – but a blessing
came back from God’s hand.
ii. Remember that Jesus came to the world, and we showed him the hospitality of
a barn. But the Father rewarded him.
iii. Most importantly, Jesus showed an openness to people of all kinds, races,
genders, social class, lifestyles, physical and mental health
iv. Matthew 25:38 contains Jesus’ demand that we welcome the stranger, that we
feed and provide for his/her needs.
d. Why early church hospitality was different
i. Early Christians identified themselves as strangers, whose home is in the
heavenly Jerusalem, in other words as strangers. Following Deut 19, they knew
to love the stranger, just as God does, showing no partiality, providing for their
1. It is easier to show compassion when you also know yourself as a
2. And in times of persecution over the first centuries of the church,
showing hospitality to people fleeing persecution was a necessity.
ii. As a result, in the early church
1. the circle of hosts and guests extended beyond just the heads of families
doing family business
2. the lines between the givers and receivers were often purposely blurred.
a. Who is being blessed, the guest who shares the loaves or the
host who collects the multiplied leftovers?
4.The discipline of hospitality
a. The church struggled with the challenge of hospitality.
b. Let’s remind ourselves of some of the types of strangers the church struggled with
1. Acts 6: The Jewish disciples were ignoring the Gentile widows. Cultural
and religious differences.
2. Acts 10: Peter thought of the Gentiles as unclean, and this attitude was
felt as disgust by many Jews.
1. James 2:2-11 The rich are treated well, while the poor are treated with
2. 1 Cor 15:17-33 The rich feasted while ignoring the poor who went hungry
at fellowship meals around the Lord’s Supper.
1. 1 Cor 12:12-26 All must be honored, highly gifted and less so, because
there is one body, united with love.
c. Why is it hard?
i. First, we need to purposely need to move outside the familiar if we are to
welcome the stranger. That is why Hebrews 13:2 tells us “not to forget” to be
1. We are naturally drawn to people like ourselves.
ii. Secondly, we naturally tend dislike the stranger.
1. Food, culture, ways of acting may be things our culture forbids and
2. The sick evoke our natural instinctive aversion to sickness and death
3. The weak evoke our fear of being without status
iii. One reason for that can be what psychologists call ‘disgust sensitivity’.
1. The sick evoke our aversion to pathogens
2. Some cultural things evoke our disgust
d. We need to train the elephant
i. We need to expand the circle of our affections beyond the safe and liked
ii. We need to adopt practices that will over time reconfigure our feelings and
Small group discussion
● Can you recall when people were hospitable to you in a way that made a lasting impact on
● Who do you find it easy to be hospitable towards? Who do you find it hard to be hospitable
● What opportunities do you have to be more hospitable? How do you think it would change you
and your relationships with others?
● Jesus is the mysterious stranger who stands at the door and knocks. If we show him
hospitality, he will come in to be with us. And our lives will be changed.
● Jesus showed us how to be hospitable to and receive hospitality from all kinds of people. Can
we learn something from this, so our relationships with others might become more significant?
● Is Jesus putting something on your heart to obey more deeply his command to be hospitable?