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Recapturing the Call to Practice Hospitality

By David Stelzl

You have the gift of hospitality! I often hear women complimenting my wife with those
words when we host large gatherings, friends, struggling families, and traveling families or
invite an occasional work associate of mine to join us for dinner. You would think this would
bring us joy, but in fact it saddens us. Families have all but given up the command to be
hospitable and have instead labeled it a gift or a calling reserved for a few.

When I hear You have the gift of hospitality, I know they mean well, but in my heart, I
realize they have cheated not only themselves but also their entire family out of an
important blessing. Recapturing the call to practice hospitality just might be the ingredient
your family is missing, one that will knit your family together in a very special way.

Redefining Hospitality

In our culture, when we speak of hospitality, we generally think of entertaining. But what is
hospitality really? Hospitality is a word derived from two Latin roots, hospes and pets. The
first refers to a stranger or even someone who is hostile. The second refers to a means of
gaining power. These words describe an ancient Greek story of two men who were enemies.
One of them offers this hospitality, gaining power over the other; the power of influence
comes as he meets the need of his estranged colleague. This power is gained by inviting his
enemy in, caring for his needs, and demonstrating a love akin to that called for in Galatians
5:14: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Through a simple act, he gains a friend
from one who had been a determined enemy. He has brought a message of freedom and
restoration to his neighbor.

This is exactly what Christ did for us in His death on the cross. Christ is our supreme
example of Christian hospitality, an example we are to follow. In fact, the need to practice
this kind of hospitality is why we are here on this earth.

The Command to Make Disciples
In Matthew 28:1920, Jesus commands His followers, Go ye therefore, and teach all
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. When we hear the
phrase The Great Commission, most of us picture knocking on doors, handing out tracts,
preaching on the corner, or joining a foreign missions organization. While this is one way of
getting the Gospel into the hearts of sinners, it is only one aspect of evangelism. The call to
hospitality actually has a lot to do with making disciples.

When Jesus went about all Galilee (Matthew 4:23), He was showing hospitality as He
taught in their synagogues and healed all manner of sickness and disease. In Matthew
14:14 when Jesus sees the great multitude, Scripture says, He was moved with
compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. After a long day, the disciples came to
Him with a concern for the people. Jesus told the disciples to feed them, and then, taking
the five loaves and two fish, He fed them until they were full.

In these examples we observe Jesus ministering to the people through teaching, healing,
and the provision of food. He is caring for their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. In
Isaiah 58:67 we read: Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of
wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break
every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are
cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked that thou cover him; and that thou hide
not thyself from thine own flesh? I love that last verse! How many of us are hiding from
meeting a need? This is a clear call to bring a message and gift of freedom and provision to
those around us.

Hospitality is giving of what we have to meet the needs of those around us. Paul describes
this in Galatians 6:10, saying, As we have therefore opportunity [or whenever we have
opportunity], let us do good to all men, especially unto them who are of the household of
faith. As we answer this call, we find ourselves meeting physical needs of housing and
food, emotional needs of encouragement and counsel, and spiritual needs of wise counsel
and love as we encourage those around us to take hold of Christ, pressing on to maturity.
This is a call we find in Hebrews 6:12: Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of
Christ, let us go on unto perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance . . . .
Hospitality opens the door to encourage others in their spiritual life, as we meet their daily

HospitalityA Command

I Timothy 3:2 requires all men who would desire the office of church leadership to be given
to hospitality. This is actually true of any man who is looking to meet the qualifications of a
Godly, spiritual man; only some will become leaders in the local church. Proverbs 31:20
describes the Godly woman as she who reacheth forth her hands to the needy and defines
the true widow in I Timothy 5:10 as one who has lodged strangers, . . . washed the saints
feet, . . . and relieved the afflicted. Finally, we read in Romans 12:13 a call to all believers,
that they continue in distributing to the necessity of the saints; and be given to
hospitality. What happens when we ignore this command?

Why We Need to Engage in Hospitality

There are five key reasons to engage in hospitality. Hospitality must be seen as:

1. A way of demonstrating the power of the Gospel. God reached out to me when I was a
helpless rebel. God sent His Son to save me and to offer me life, turning me away from my
rebellion. He has invited me into a relationship, not for his own benefit but to demonstrate
love to me as His adopted son (Romans 8:29). When we open our doors to the world, when
we begin meeting needs and giving of ourselves, we exemplify the true hospitality of Christ:
we demonstrate Gods hospitable love.

2. A means of personal accountability. As a businessman traveling around the world, I see
the depravity of men and woman all the time. Autonomous individuals dont operate as part
of a body, and they refuse to be accountable to anyone.

Discipleship via hospitality provides accountability and pushes us to maturity. As I meet
with men, I am challenged to help them find lasting answers to failing marriages, rebellious
children, educational struggles, unprofitable business, and numerous health issues. I am
forced to dig into the Word, looking for answers, praying for them, and making sure that my
life and the life of my family exhibit the victory of Christ.

3. A way of building family unity and a common vision. Observe other families as you shop,
eat out, or walk through city streets, and you will see that when parents and teens are
together, there is almost always a disconnect. Teenagers are plugged into iPods or busy
texting, fathers are responding to email on their smartphones, and mothers are trying,
without much success, to make conversation with their splintered family. We have become
a society of fractured families: individualistic, autonomous, and seemingly without need of
one another.

Hospitality offers a solution.Families need a common vision, ministry, and purpose. As we
embrace this calling, looking together at the needs of those in the Body of Christ, as well as
the needs of strangers around us, and we work together to make the home a center for
hospitality, a new hope begins to arise. Suddenly everyone is busy working on the same

4. The solution to finding like-minded families. There are no like-minded families in our
area! How many times have you said or heard this? True Biblical hospitality is the solution.
Building disciples, or meeting the spiritual needs of the families in your area, is the process
of building like-minded families. Discipleship is a process of duplicating oneself. This is what
Christ had in mind as He walked through the cities, teaching and healing. He was helping
the needy while transforming them into His image.

Pastors and church leaders dont have true friends because they have hidden themselves in
their offices and behind their pulpits. Christian fathers dont have true fellowship with other
men because they have failed to reach out to men in the way Paul invested his life in

5. An exciting door to home enterprise and other ministry opportunities. As God opened our
eyes to the people around us, we began to see so many unmet needs. One of the exciting
outcomes of our focus on hospitality has been our family business. I realized my business of
working with sales people and entrepreneurs could be slightly modified to help
homeschooling families, and RaisingEntreprenuers.net was launched. This is how all
great businesses are born: someone observes a need and comes up with a Biblical solution
to that need.

Needs are all around us, and if someone can come up with a lasting answer, it can be
turned into a business or ministry. This process becomes the foundation for family
enterprise and also gives incredible meaning to the work our young people are doing in

We are ambassadors, representatives of Christ. Whatever we do, whatever we say, however
we live, we are saying to the world, This is the way Gods people are, how homeschool
families behave, and what it means to love our children and those around us. In John
14:15 Christ said, If ye love me, keep my commandments. Lets keep the command in
Romans 12:13 to be given to hospitality. Jesus says in John 13:15, For I have given you
an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Lets be shining followers of Christs
supreme example in reaching out to us when we were strangers and enemies and in serving
us sacrificially. Open your hearts and your homes . . . embrace hospitality. Jesus did!

David and Tina Stelzl, long-time home educators, live in Waxhaw, North Carolina. They
frequently speak at homeschool conferences and host seminars dedicated to helping
families transition from homeschool to business and ministry. Visit them at

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in
the September 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, the family education
magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and
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