Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Gracious Hospitality

As we are studying Luke 14, we are observing and listening to Jesus who was invited to dinner by a Pharisee whose sole purpose was to trap Jesus in something that He did or said.

 

At the same time, Jesus the guest is observing those around Him and taking opportunities to teach needed lessons of the heart.  As they and we listen to Him, we have to agree with those who said, “No man ever spoke like this man.” John 7:46.  Those of us who have received Him as God and Saviour reverently and gratefully respond to His stated purpose in coming to this earth. “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I came into the world to bear witness of the Truth.  Everyone who is of The Truth hears my voice.”  John 18:37

 

Do you hear and respond to Christ?

 

Those who heard Him then and those who hear Him now are divided in our response. We either receive Him or reject Him.  In John 10:4 Jesus stated, ” My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me.”

 

To those who do not have eyes to hear or ears to hear Him, Jesus says in John 8:43,47 “Why do ye not understand My speech? Even because  ye cannot hear My Word. He who is of God hears God’s Words: ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God.”

 

I pray that it may be said of us what Jesus prayed to The Father in John 17:8 “For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me, and they have received them and have known surely that I came out from Thee.” As you read the brief story in Luke 14:12-14, may God help you to hear His voice and respond in obedience.

 

Are you really hospitable?

 

I think you will agree that Jesus is not teaching us that we are never to invite our relatives or friends for dinner or to share in other social occasions.  Hospitality is always appropriate.  All Christians can be friendly and hospitable, though some Christians seem to be gifted by the Spirit of God in this area.  Gracious hospitality is simply  the ability to make people feel comfortable and at ease.

 

Regardless of whether you are gifted or not in this area, I think you will agree that the major blessing we receive when we show hospitality to our friends and relatives is an immediate enjoyment and pleasure.  We are also rewarded when they reciprocate and invite us to their homes.  Jesus is not trying to stifle that kind of hospitality.

 

But the fact is that all of us have a strong tendency and desire to limit our hospitality to those with whom we are compatible and comfortable.  In fact, there is a natural tendency in all of us to invest our time and energy in that which has the greatest earthly gratification or pay-off.   We tend to socialize with those with whom we are comfortable or with those who  enhance us socially or financially.

 

It was these wrong motives with which Jesus confronted His host at this dinner party; as well as us today.   What is Jesus teaching us in this conversation with the Pharisee?

 

If we invite those who cannot return the favor, God will multiply our blessings; not only now, but also at the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ. Learn more about this Bema Judgment in my series on Prophecy.

 

Jesus is teaching here that when extending a welcome to strangers in our churches as well as in our communities, we must be socially as well as  racially color blind.  This includes our young people.  All of us have an obligation and responsibility to  be a welcoming committee to strangers, regardless of their  class, race or appearance.  All visitors should sense a warm,  genuine welcome.  That welcome could start with a warm, genuine smile and hand shake or hug.

 

Do you really want to be blessed? 

 

Concentrate your attention on certain types of people.  Show warmth and love to everyone, but especially to those who are obviously poor, handicapped, lame and blind.  Let’s focus on those four categories of visitors.

 

The Poor

 

If yours is a warm, friendly church, you are going to attract the poor.  What are you going to do with them when they come to you and ask for financial help?  What are you going to do as they stand out in the parking lot before or after a service, hitting up people for a hand-out?  Deal with that immediately.  Psalm 41:1 tells us to “consider the poor”.  Spend some time with them and get to know them.  Make them feel welcome but warn them gently but sternly that begging is not tolerated.  Show them from Psalm 37:25  that God’s people do not beg.

 

Though it is the responsibility of deacons, any concerned Christian can go to their home and spend time with them, learning of their real needs. Of course, the primary need of anyone is to come to Christ and be saved from their sins. Deal with that issue first. If they have no interest in spiritual things, they will dismiss you and you will probably never see them again. If they trust Christ and are converted, they will want to learn to do right.  In many cases their first desire will  be to get a job. Many able-bodied people have been programmed by our socialistic government programs to depend on government for all their needs.

 

Their first need is to  know Christ as Saviour and Lord, and learn to know Him as their Good Shepherd who cares for all their needs.  If a person has no interest in having that relationship with God, then there isn’t really anything we can do to help them.  No matter how many handouts you give them, it will never be enough.  They choose to be perpetual beggars.  I do not encourage such people with financial aid.

 

To consider a poor person involves visiting them in their home and learning more about their situation.  Find out if they really are destitute and if they really do need your help.  If they have some income, find out how much they have coming in and where it is going. Help them identify the things upon which they are wasting their money, such as tobacco, alcoholic beverages,  soda pop, lottery tickets and other wasteful spending that is doing them no good.  

 

If you are dealing with an able bodied person who is not working, explain to him what the Bible teaches about the need to work. Show him II Thessalonians 3:10-12. From that passage you can teach him that if a person wants to eat, then he needs to work. If a person is not willing to work at even a minimum wage job, then we under no obligation to help him financially in his laziness.  If he is willing to work, perhaps you will have to spend some time and energy helping him learn how to clean up, dress correctly and apply for a job.   God may lead you to give him a little money to meet some immediate needs to prepare him to go job hunting. Don’t hesitate to give money to someone who is willing to take steps to help himself. Think of the money you give as a loan to God. Proverbs 19:17 says, “He that hath pity upon the poor lends to the Lord, and that which he has given will He (God) pay him again.”  Folks, that is not a bad investment. I can personally testify that when you make such a loan to God,  He repays with generous interest.

 

Do you see that helping a poor person involves more than a hand shake and a “God bless you?”  It involves spending time and energy sitting with him in a sometimes dirty, smelly house and patiently teaching him spiritual and practical truths about life. I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent in stinking, dirty houses, my lungs burning with the reeking stench of cigarette smoke. I remember one house where I could not find a chair that was not messed up with sticky food and grime. Over the years I have seen some  lives changed as they came to Christ and got jobs and started working.

 

Going back to our story in Luke 14:12-14 we learn that not only should we show gracious, loving hospitality to the poor, but also to the maimed, the lame and the blind. Basically, these people are not looking for pity; they are looking for those who genuinely love them and will befriend them.  Help them spiritually by leading them to Jesus. Then go the next step and teach them how to live by God’s Word.  Take the first step by helping one person.  If your really want to serve the Lord, He will lead needy people into your life and give you the grace to  pour out your life to them in gracious hospitality.  Not only will you be blessed, but also your whole family will share in the blessing and learn valuable lessons about serving God.

 

Is it worth the time, energy, disappointments and tears?   Believe me!   It is!  God has blessed my wife and me far beyond our dreams.  In Mark 8:36 Jesus promises you that if you will lose your life in love to others for Jesus’ sake, He will repay you.

 

In Luke 6:35 Jesus encourages us to love our enemies and do good to them, loaning to them if they need it, HOPING FOR NOTHING, and our reward will be great!   Why are we hoping for nothing?  We hope for nothing because we are not considering our own interests.  Our concern is for others. We are not self-centered, but other-centered. We help others with no thought about ourselves.   To such people,  God will pour out His blessings, in this life and certainly in eternity.

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September 10, 2008 - Posted by | Hospitality

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