We continue to look at how to properly respond to God’s great mercy toward us by the worship of our God as we become living sacrifices, giving up seeking what we want from life and learning to know and serve what God wants. That begins with using our spiritual gifts to serve each other in the church. Paul’s list of commands we are studying describe a lifestyle of setting ourselves aside (Matt 16:24-26). Our goal as Christians is to love and lift each other up.
In today’s Scripture the two commands describes practical ways we can show brotherly affection and honor to one another. “Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.” (Rom 12:13) The practice of the church in its earliest days was for wealthier Christians to sell their belongings to meet the physical needs of Christians who were not as well off. Not only did these acts of sacrificial giving demonstrate sincere service to God, they demonstrated to other believers and the watching world that these Christians practiced what they talked about.
How do we know who the saints are in need? We belong to a local church, where we are on the front lines for our community: “And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” (Heb 10:24-25)
In the same way, we are commanded to show hospitality to each other: “pursue hospitality”. The world can be a cold, lonely, and dangerous place. One hallmark of the Christian community is that it is meant to offer safe and welcoming spaces to believers through the hospitality of other believers. Traveling from town to town in Paul’s day was always a risk. Christians welcomed by other genuine believers as they passed through or arrived in a new town were protected from thieves, weather, and violence.
To be hospitable means to be cordial, genial, gracious, sociable, receptive, and welcoming. When we look at this as offering personal hospitality, it doesn’t necessarily mean to invite someone to spend the night or have them over to dinner. It can be as simple as letting down the barriers to build a relationship. Good relationships don’t just happen; they take cultivation. Offer a listening ear, showing genuine interest in what is going on in other’s lives. When we take the time to really listen, we hear other ways that we can show them honor and help in their needs. See hospitality as a way to grow relationships with other believers as we do Christ, and we thereby are pursuing hospitality to show brotherly love and honor.
This is the nature of service we are called to provide for each other. “Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.” (Rom 12:9-13)
Lord, let me view others through Your eyes today so that I am able to share Your love by giving honor and pursuing hospitality. Lord, also give me Your ears to hear other’s needs, and the ability to understand the guidance You give me as to how to honor those in need. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.